Mobile DTV gets multimedia emergency broadcast alerts

Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 13-06-2012

The Mobile DTV standard from the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) is getting an emergency broadcast upgrade, making it possible for future viewers to receive more than just text alerts when dangerous weather or other emergency conditions threaten public safety.
Compelling alerts that use video, audio, text and graphics will be enabled for mobile DTV-equipped cellphones, tablets, laptops, netbooks and in-car navigation systems.
The Mobile Emergency Alert System (M-EAS) enhancements to the A/153 standard will require no additional spectrum and is an additional use of existing TV transmitters and towers rather than relying on the often congested mobile network.
"The ability to reach millions of people with a single transmission avoids the chronic congestion of other communications networks during emergencies," said ATSC President Mark Richer. "This inherent scalability always has been one of the biggest public service benefits of broadcasting in times of emergencies. And, at this stage of mobile DTV's evolution, we believe the time is right to standardize mobile emergency alerts. We're moving ahead with a proposal to include the methodology for providing emergency information to mobile/personal/handheld TV receivers."
The ATSC's decision to standardise M-EAS follows a nationwide pilot project that delivered rich multimedia emergency alerts to prototype mobile DTV receivers and proved the viability of M-EAS. The year-long pilot project was undertaken by the Public Broadcasting Service and LG Electronics. It was co-funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, LG and Zenith and received technical support and additional funding from NAB Labs, Roundbox and Harris Corporation.
Work is already underway to consider backwards-compatible changes to the A/153 Mobile DTV standard to accommodate the new M-EAS capabilities. The changes will not affect the performance of current generation mobile DTV or fixed ATSC receivers.
Mobile DTV offers free over-the-air feeds from local broadcast stations to appropriately equipped end devices.