Last week, the ATSC approved a standard for mobile digital television broadcasting. “Mobile DTV” will give consumers access to free programming on a variety of mobile devices. Already, 70 broadcasters in 29 markets have annonuced plans to roll out Mobile DTV this year. Manufacturers including LG Electronics will ship a Mobile DTV device early in 2010. Other companies have shown prototype devices, and products are expected in 2010 that will add Mobile DTV support to notebook computers and smartphones.
The Mobile DTV services use the standard 6 MHz bandwidth ATSC digital TV channels, and supports the use of sub-channels. Progamming can include regular network programming as well as special short-segment clips for news, weather, and sports, and even datacasting such as traffic reports. A press release by the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) suggests that interactive features may be available in the future.
I have to wonder how much traction Mobile DTV is going to get, especially as 3G and 4G networks are giving owners of smart phones and other mobile devices direct access to the Internet. Will consumers be satisfied with scheduled programming and limited choices when they can have access to an enormous range of on-demand video content on the Internet whenever they want? Mobile DTV sounds like a good idea, but I suspect that it may just be a stopgap measure that will be overrun by mobile broadband access.