US goes Korean for mobile TV
Chris Forrester

The USA has selected its mobile/cellular standard, and has gone for a Samsung and LG-backed ATSC-M/H proposal. The big question now is how this decision will affect Qualcomm’s MediaFLO technology, already being deployed?

The USA’s Advanced Television Standards Committee announced the final result of its voting on October 17, and says the full standard will be unveiled shortly. The ATSC-M/H is said to allow a minimum of investment in equipment for the transmission of the signal of the over-the-air networks digitally. Viewers need not necessarily pay additional fees to enjoy the digital broadcasting service.

The technology is the combination of LG’s mobile pedestrian handheld technology and Samsung’s advanced vestigial sideband technology. Both technology companies have worked together since May to harmonise their combined technologies. The Open Mobile Video Coalition also saw broadcasters like NBC and Fox TV participate in test transmissions for the ATSC-M/H technology.

In the US, Qualcomm is introducing a rival – and commercial - version of mobile broadcasting through its MediaFLO technology. As the ATSC is adopted as a new standard, there are two types of mobile TV technology in the US. Since the national TV networks have tested the ATSC-M/H it is said that the ATSC-M/H based mobile TV broadcasting could be commercially available promptly.

According to the Open Mobile Video Coalition – best described as a voluntary association of around 800 over the air ‘free’ TV stations which have been seeking to accelerate the development of mobile digital TV in the US, and which has also briefed government officials, the new standard will also allow for "emergency alerts that can be customized by market or location, live audio feeds, data-casting with traffic maps, closed captioning, 'clip casting' sports and news highlights that could be stored in memory on a device, 'push' video-on-demand for future viewing, time-shifted television, mobile digital video recording, interactive polling, electronic coupons, targeted advertising, [and] an electronic service guide for ease of tuning."

LG Electronics is reportedly already mass-producing suitable chipsets, while it is understood that Nokia and others have similar devices ready. Chip manufacturer Vishay announced on Oct 19 that it has a multilayered chip capable of tuning through the complete UHF band, and receiving not just MediaFLO but also DVB-T, DVB-H and ISDB-T transmissions. Dubbed Vitramon, the chip antennas are 35x5x1.2mm for the VJ 3505, and 10.5x15.5x1.2mm for the VJ 6040, and comply with the MBRAI standard.