Is Mobile Television the future panacea for TV Broadcasting?
After 60+ years of over-the-air TV delivery, the TV broadcasters have earned the right to provide Mobile Television … if they want to.
“On-the-road” Television Viewing means Local News: Stationary and Moving
Let us in this Report define the term “Mobile Television” as we expect this TV delivery service to be in the future. Portable TV sets have been around for many years, including that smallish plastic ball with the 7” B/W picture tube, often powered from a car battery at the campsite. Pictured below is a JVC Videosphere TV from the 1970s, with pull-out rabbit-ears antenna and chain carrying handle. This is obviously NOT Mobile Television. It’s portable but viewing mode is stationary, as the old analog NTSC OTA transmissions did not support a continuously moving TV receiver. In 1970, JVC advertised that the Videosphere “turned you on even when it was turned off”.
Even the “new” ATSC DTV over-the-air (OTA) format developed in the early-mid 1990s was not designed to support a continuously moving DTV receiver, as it had enough challenges in the conquering of multipath problems reaching stationary antenna/receivers. Yes, a number of portable DTV flat screen receiver/displays have come to market over the past several years, intended for the portable (even handheld) but stationary enjoyment of local DTV ATSC transmissions. Are there occasions where the viewer is able to receive DTV OTA on the handheld display while moving in a car, bus or train? Yes, but it generally requires an unobstructed direct line of sight to the DTV transmitter tower, which will not be available for very long in a moving vehicle.
A typical product offering of several years ago is the “Portable Pocket Digital TV” by a leading on-line merchant pictured right. At $199, it offered a 4.25” 16:9 screen with 480 x 272 resolution and, of course, a built-in ATSC DTV receiver only able to receive DTV OTA reliably when stationary. On its website, the on-line merchant states “we regret that this item is no longer available”.
Assertion #1: Portable, pocket and personal TVs have never been a substantial part of the total viewing TV audience.
Just look at Prime Time Viewing in 2010: about 70% of all 116 million U.S. TV households are watching some type of TV at home during prime time weekdays, on the average. That means that 30% are doing something else, either at home or away. The Author is certain that most of those 30% are NOT watching portable, pocket, personal or mobile TV.
Will a sufficient market develop for a dedicated Mobile DTV-only receiver/display?
The Author “introduced” the new Mobile DTV (Mobile DTV format or originally ATSC M/H) in the prior Issue 2 of the ProHD Executive Report. The Mobile DTV system enable full power DTV stations to “interleave” what is likely to be lower resolution (max SD) mobile television signals with their primary ATSC HD OTA home delivery TV signals. The Mobile DTV sub-signal may be received, error corrected, decoded and displayed while the receiver/display is travelling at speeds up to and exceeding 100 MPH. Unfortunately, the primary ATSC (H)DTV signal, although received while moving, will NOT produce sufficient continuous data to be reliably decoded, as the original ATSC format was never intended for “a moving/ traveling receiver”, We will not expand further on the technology in this issue, as is it sufficient to say that Mobile DTV seems to work well operationally and technically in delivering sub-HD mobile television to fast moving receivers/displays in resolutions of 416×240 (basic), 624×360 (enhanced) and 832×480 (maximum).
But “Mobile Television” watching is not just through Mobile DTV by local broadcasters, but also on Smartphones, portable PCs and Tablets primarily through 4G in the future. The differentiation between Mobile DTV and 4G-TV is obviously in what kind of TV programming is available through the various providers.
Assertion #2: Local content (news, traffic, weather) is of more interest to the local TV audiences during commuting hours than non-news nationally distributed or syndicated TV programs. (Local TV stations with news operations have a substantial advantage over smartphone 4G providers.)
Thus, “Mobile Television” is emerging to be available in four types of portable displays, with variants available for in-car installations, on top of the dashboard, in the dashboard, in the headrest and as flip down ceiling mount then often with integrated Blu-ray/DVD players. There are already hundreds of millions of laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones in the U.S., and hundred of millions will be sold in the future. At the start of 2011, there were probably just a few thousands Mobile DTV units out in the hands of the consumers. And remember that any laptop, netbook and tablet can be turned into a highly capable Mobile DTV receiver/display by plugging in a Mobile DTV USB stick (announced by Hauppauge and others).
Yes, it is possible for the Mobile DTV receiver/display to be turned into a 4G-capable broadband wireless device, but only if such 4G service is offered by a wireless provider, in which case they rather build the Mobile DTV receiver chip-set into the smartphones OR perhaps offer an in-Car 4G/Mobile DTV device.
There are nearly 300 million active cell phones and Smartphones in the U.S. because of a basic established consumer need that telephone contact (and text messaging) should be available anytime anywhere. A dedicated Mobile DTV-only receiver/display unit will always be a consumer’s second priority to a smartphone and probably also to a cell phone.
Assertion #3: Substantial market success of Mobile DTV voids the need for a dedicated Mobile DTV receiver/display, as success may cause some or all leading broadband wireless providers to build-in Mobile DTV receiver capabilities in their 4G smartphones and 4G USB Sticks, while mediocre Mobile DTV market performance produces non-interest by the broadband wireless providers and by the manufacturers of the dedicated Mobile DTV receiver/displays. The Author forecasts that there will NOT be sufficient market demand for a dedicated Mobile DTV-only Unit in the longer term.
How many DTV Stations will really broadcast Mobile DTV in 2011?
“All politics is local” is a well known phrase first coined by the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O’Neill (D—Mass). We may confirm below that Mobile DTV success is likely required based on fresh local content, requiring HD acquisition and production solutions such as offered by JVC’s professional and cost effective ProHD cameras/camcorders. “Is most Mobile Television local?”
Assertion #4: Mobile DTV success must be based on successful local HD news operations including live HD-ENG over the TV stations primary OTA HD channel, substantially simulcasting local HD news coverage scaled to Mobile DTV.
Broadcast Mobile DTV is based on local coverage by DTV stations choosing to deliver Mobile DTV service as one or more “sub-M/H-channels” interleaved with the OTA transmitted primary (H)DTV channel. Presuming that any major local TV station (which are likely to have extensive news operations, with weather and traffic reports) will not significantly compromise the quality of their primary network affiliated HD delivery to homes, the total number of Mobile DTV channels available from each major local TV station will let’s say average less than 2. DTV stations transmitting 1080i may be limited to 1 Mobile DTV channel because of the higher compressed bitrate required for true 1080i picture quality as compared with 720p, out of the total ATSC 19.4 Mbps available.
Local DTV stations without significant news operations may offer several lesser quality SD digital channels OTA (DTV multi-casting), generally with very low local audience share, and some may not go to maximum ATSC ERP power but with just enough coverage to qualify for “FCC must-carry or retransmission consent” on the local cable and satellite TV systems for their primary DTV channel. These independent TV stations are generally low-cost operations without the ability to generate interesting local content, thus Mobile DTV service established by independent (non-news) TV stations may be to do simulcast of lesser quality SD channels.
But remember that the OTA addition of any one Mobile DTV channel by any such multi-casting (non-news) DTV station will likely require the removal of one DTV SD (multi-casting) channel. And by not having maximum allowed DTV ERP, Mobile DTV over-the-air coverage may be mediocre and thus have little or no audience value. And there is no “FCC must-carry/dual-carry mandate” for the Mobile DTV service or for the multi-casting SD.
Mobile DTV over DTV VHF channels may not perform as well for moving Mobile DTV receivers as over DTV UHF channels, as larger physical antennas (or electrically equivalents) are required for reliable reception, as the wavelength for VHF DTV Ch.2 (54—60 MHz) is a whopping 5.4 meter (~17 feet) while VHF DTV Ch.13 (210—216 MHz) is still 1.4 meter (> 4 feet).
A quarter lambda whip antenna for Ch.2 is 4 feet long while the whip for Ch.13 is about 1 foot. This compares with the wavelength for UHF DTV Ch.30 (566—572 MHz) being about one half meter with a quarter lambda whip being only about 5 inches. It is easy to recognize the difficulty in the integration of a VHF-capable receiving antenna into a handheld smartphone as a pull-out whip antenna of any significant length is obviously far from practical. Compare with a built-in antenna equivalent to a Ch.30 whip at 5 inches, which UHF antenna technology is already here in many millions of cell and smartphones.
There are 482 DTV stations with OTA on VHF channels 2—13 according to the FCC as of July 1, 2010, or nearly 30% of all full power DTV stations in the U.S. That leaves about 1,300 DTV stations currently with OTA on UHF channels 14—51, but unfortunately, the FCC’s National Broadband Plan issued last March announced that the FCC is proposing to reclaim 120 MHz of DTV spectrum, from DTV channels 31—51. There are about 665 DTV stations currently transmitting on UHF channels 31—51, which local DTV stations are likely to consider the unlikely relocation to a lower UHF channel in the face of the “FCC threatened” 600 MHz (Ch.31—51) spectrum auction before investing to initiate Mobile DTV transmissions in 2011.
OMVC = Open Mobile Video Coalition:
The essential industry driver of Mobile DTV
About OMVC (from OMVC website www.omvc.org):
In 2007, transmission of full-motion digital television signals to mobile and handheld devices was proven technically feasible. Leaders of the broadcasting industry came together to make mobile digital television a reality; they formed the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) to accelerate the development and rollout of mobile DTV products and services, maximizing the full potential of the digital television spectrum. Today the OMVC truly represents the industry, with members that own and operate more than 900 commercial and public television stations nationwide. OMVC is a private industry group.
It is essential that there is an industry group exposing and driving the broader commercial opportunities in Mobile DTV in the most promising direction. The Author has been and is highly supportive of the TV station broadcasters’ right to develop and provide comprehensive mobile television service into the future, but the Author seeks to address, analyze and present the issues independently from the OMVC perhaps resulting in different approaches for the group station owners. There is also a possibility that the Author’s independent detailed analysis of TV market forces may result in conclusions that Mobile DTV, as currently configured and promoted, is not a future panacea for TV station broadcasters. We’ll see later in here.
Analyzing OMVC Data:
The OMVC website (www.omvc.org) includes a page “Mobile DTV Station Guide” (downloaded on 1/24/11) listing 60 DMAs (out of a total of 210 DMAs per Nielsen) in the U.S. listing the DTV stations providing Mobile DTV service and/or planning to launch Mobile DTV service in 2011. The underlying count of interest is somewhat labor intensive to get to, but the Author was able to arrive at the following table.
The numbers were deciphered from OMVC data available on its website on 1/24/11 and from a supplemental Excel kindly supplied to the Author by the OMVC. The analysis shows that there are 52 DTV stations currently delivering Mobile DTV service to its DMA coverage area as of January 2011. In addition, there are 112 DTV stations planning to initiate Mobile DTV service in 2011, expecting the number of DTV stations providing Mobile DTV service to reach 164 by the end of the year.
That’s 164 Mobile DTV station in 60 listed DMAs, or (nearly) 3 DTV stations in each DMA on the average. Other interesting observations are that 37 are expected to be VHF Hi-band DTV stations, but only 2 VHF Lo-band DTV stations. There are about 1,780 full power licensed DTV stations in the U.S., thus we can state that approximately 10% of all DTV stations will be delivering Mobile DTV service by the end of 2011. The Author sees 10% as disappointing.
Assertion #4: Any Mobile DTV success will first be measured locally, DMA by DMA, and only after that review national success. Currently, Washington DC consumers enjoy a total of 7 DTV stations offering Mobile DTV service, 5 in Charlotte, 4 in Orlando and 3 in Seattle and in Philadelphia.
OMVC initiated Washington DC trials (“OMVC 2010 Consumer Showcase—Washington DC”) involving several hundred persons equipped with “personal size” Mobile DTV receivers/displays in 2010. The results of the trials so far indicate that “mobile television prime time” starts at noon, peaks at 3PM, and declines to the noon-level by 8PM. This is a difficult analysis as the “sample population” may be too small and the demographics are not detailed. Tentatively, Mobile DTV viewership interest rapidly climbs during lunch hour, maintains high interest until mid-afternoon perhaps by extending the lunch hour Mobile DTV watching. After which there is lesser but still significant interest through the commuting hours from 4PM to 7PM. Many questions come to mind: (a) were most if not all participants gainfully employed in full time day jobs? (b) How many were public transport commuters and how many private car commuters? (c) Why was there a peak of viewing interest starting as early as 3AM in the morning? (d) Full time all day employees are not permitted to watch TV on the job, thus it is puzzling that Mobile DTV watching remained at lunch peak levels in the afternoon.
Competitive TV Program Offerings:
Broadcast Mobile DTV vs. 4G Mobile Television
We continue in here to analyze and try to define the term “Mobile Television” as we obviously expect mobile TV delivery to grow in the future. Although the daytime work force at large, school children and students may try to “sneak view” TV programs during the day, enabled by the availability of TV programs on “personal-sized TVs” (which include viewing on smartphones as well as Mobile DTV devices), such viewership is not consistent or material in the overall picture. If the viewer is not permitted to watch TV (at school or at work), then such “sneak view” should perhaps not be audience rated and should not be material in the determination of commercial success.
Comcast (cable) and Time Warner (not cable TW) announced TV Everywhere initiative in 2009, and it was initiated by 2010 and adopted by a number of media companies. TV Everywhere is simply a verification system that allows television service providers to authenticate current subscriptions of those who wish to access television programs over broadband wireless (and wired) on demand internet television services, that they are already paying customers, for instance of Comcast cable. So, if you are a Comcast cable subscriber and you’re sitting on the bus with your smartphone wishing to watch a HBO movie (HBO is a Time Warner company) over your 4G internet connection, the access process will presumably include authentication by Comcast that you are a HBO-tier subscriber, and then allow you smartphone (or 4G USB stick-on-a-laptop) access to watch HBO. TV Everywhere is really a “joint scheme” by MVPD (Multichannel Video Program Distributors) and TV program/channel providers to make it more difficult for broadband wireless (and wired) providers to increase market share of their “OTT partners”. For example, HULU and Netflix are not cable channels, thus direct competitors to cable TV delivery, so TV Everywhere attempts to limit the need for accessing (and subscribing to) HULU and Netflix while in a mobile environment by making it easier (and perhaps free) to access cable channel programming instead. But … will you pay the 4G wireless provider for the internet data bandwidth used for TV Everywhere programs? Probably.
Local TV Station: Internet Simulcast Streaming?
Every major local TV station with newscasts operates their own websites, some with streaming live from time to time. Or the internet surfer can choose the news story videos she wants to play back, or select the weather story video for the day. But what about continuous simulcast streaming in real time of the main ATSC DTV OTA channel? Not a problem, at least not technically. However, legally, the affiliate may not have the rights to distribute the network or syndicated programs over the internet. But the locally originated newscasts should be subject to no such limitation, being able to stream simulcast the news, weather and traffic during morning, midday, late afternoon, early evening and late evening, including national network news feeds with the network’s permission. This is where the broadband wireless providers and OTT folks fall short: No access to comprehensive and professionally produced local TV news, weather and traffic. The local TV station with the best internet streaming of local news, weather and traffic (and add sports news to that) wins the mobile television race, at least locally measured. Because, except for people watching soap operas during lunch break, who will watch mobile television during a working weekday? Very few. And who will watch a movie on a smartphone at 8AM while commuting to work. Very few.
It’s Commuter TV, stupid … or is it?
In the greater Los Angeles area (LA County, more or less the LA DMA) on a typical workday early morning, there are nearly 5 million people commuting to work between the hours of 6AM and 10AM, and returning home between the hours of 4PM and 8PM, of which 3.5 million are driving alone, nearly 1 million in car pools, and about 500,000 go on public transport.
Another interesting statistical consideration for TV station executives is that the purchasing power of the 500,000 public transport commuters are rather low on the average, thus it is quite clear that the desirable audience to be reached over mobile TV by the advertisers is the nearly 4.5 million of commuters driving to work. The local TV stations need to reach the (local) Commuters-by-Car as the primary mobile television audience, as, in LA, this audience is about 8x larger than public transport commuters.
Yes, Mobile TV = Commuters-by-Car TV
The ratios in the New York DMA may be different, with less car commuters and more public transport commuters, particularly with respect to commuters working in Manhattan. But considering the larger NY DMA including Long Island, New Jersey, northern Counties and Connecticut, the commuters-by-car are in the millions and exceeding the total number of public transport commuters. Another consideration is that video reception in subway and car/bus tunnels is likely to be mediocre or non-existing, thus public commuters from the suburbs into Manhattan will lose live OTA coverage once entering Manhattan. The commuters-by-cars on the other hand will want to view news and traffic long before entering Manhattan to decide their best route to get to midtown, whether on Henry Hudson or FDR. No such choices are available or needed for the public commuters.
Assertion #5: The most attractive mobile TV market (for local TV stations) seems to be commuters-by-car from 6AM to 10AM and from 4PM to 8PM, for a total of about 8 hours per weekday, and where the largest audience share is probably drawn to local news, traffic and weather.
It’s difficult to understand and accept the OMVC case study in Washington DC, that Mobile DTV viewership will peak between 2PM and 4PM if the “sample population” were largely employed in full time day jobs. And if the “sample population” were largely stay-at-home moms and retired persons, then they would probably watch TV at home. The Washington DC trials seems to indicate that a relatively small percentage of all Mobile DTV receiver/displays were active at any one time.
Mobile TV Program Choices:
Mobile DTV vs. 4G Broadband Wireless
A Mobile DTV program consumer in a Top-10 DMA like Atlanta (DMA #8, 2.4 million TV homes, 14 full power stations) may have available (once Mobile DTV is substantially developed) a selection of 14 to 20 Mobile DTV channels on his Mobile DTV receiver/display. Let’s say 5 TV channels have full newscast operations and will simulcast news, weather and traffic over Mobile DTV. Outside of commuting hours, most of the Mobile DTV channels will simulcast regular programming of which major league sportscasts will be of significant interest. That is IF the local TV station is permitted to simulcast the major league sports event on the Mobile DTV channel. Remember, a radio network may be spending millions of dollars for the major league rights to reach in-car travelers by radio, and the radio folks will object to mobile video coverage.
A mobile TV program consumer using 4G Broadband Wireless in Atlanta has available hundreds of TV channels and potentially thousands of TV episodes and movies ON DEMAND, many of which will be free if she is a cable TV subscriber (using TV Everywhere privileges). The consumer may even have major league sports coverage available, perhaps even through ESPN if ESPN is participating in TV Everywhere arrangements. Granted, she must subscribe to OTT services like Netflix, HULU etc. and likely pay for excess 4G broadband data transfers if she is watching a lot of mobile TV using 4G. (Such excess charges may be expensive—see below)
The 4G TV consumer can even access the local TV stations’ websites over the broadband wireless internet connection AND view any simulcast of news, weather and traffic IF the local TV stations provides such simulcast internet streaming. AND the 4G wireless provider (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile) cannot restrict such access to any legal website without violating the recently adopted FCC Net Neutrality Rules. All the wireless provider can do is to charge the consumer subscriber for excess data transfers without discrimination.
What is the monthly data transfer for watching the news, weather and traffic streaming simulcast from a local TV station over the (wireless) internet? Let’s assume watching on an in-dash 7” monitor at a relatively high quality 854x480p30 (wide SD) at 1 Mbps, adding up to nearly 1GB per day (for 2 hours/day wide SD streaming) and 20GB per month commuting 22 days per month. At Verizon’s current excess rate of $10 per GB (over the max plan of 10GB for $80 — Verizon website 2/15/11), assuming that all 20GB is monthly excess, the monthly excess charges will be about $200! ($280 per month for broadband wireless including the base level max plan.) Obviously, NO consumer will pay at those levels for daily local TV station streaming. If we reduce the streaming picture quality to equivalent of near minimum Mobile DTV at 416x240p30 at 0.4 Mbps, the monthly wireless data consumption will be 8GB still costing $160 for the month watching 2 hours per day for 22 working days (8GB adding to the 10GB base level). Still too expensive.
Assertion #6: Cost is the only (potential) advantage of Mobile DTV over 4G Mobile Television, that, once the consumer buys the Mobile DTV unit, mobile TV programming delivery is (supposed to be) FREE, but limited to what program the local TV stations decide to put on the Mobile DTV channels. (But whether “free” is preferred over “a reasonable charge” depends on a number of issues.)
Let’s make a deal:
Local TV station simulcast streaming
over local wireless broadband
What are then the options for the local TV stations, the Group Station Owners and the Network O&O Divisions? Let’s take a major Group Station Owner with TV stations in major markets, all heavy local news operations. The Group could explore making a deal with Sprint (or one or more of the other 3 providers of 4G) for all of their DMAs where:
- Any Sprint 4G subscriber at any time located (by cell tower ID) within a specific DMA is able to access the Group’s local TV station’s simulcast internet streaming of their main HDTV channel without incurring excess data transfer charges
- Any Sprint 4G subscriber at any time located outside the specific DMA will not have access to the local TV station’s simulcast
The key here is competitive advantage and positioning of the local TV stations with full news operations, and we can assume that, if one local TV station faces success making such a local deal, then all major TV stations in any top-100 DMA will want the same agreement with the 4G wireless broadband providers for competitive reasons. This may generate a “reverse retransmission fee” environment where the local TV station may pay one or more of the 4G wireless providers a monthly fee for not charging the viewers any excess data transfer charges for watching the TV stations program streaming locally. What will the cable companies say to the TV stations paying the 4G providers, while the cable companies are paying the TV stations?
Not only will such a TV station wireless streaming arrangement cover local mobile displays and smartphones, but can also be used by home TV audience to bypass cable/satellite TV and deliver the same TV station simulcast over the internet to any home where TVs are “net-connected”, subject to the mobile simulcast picture resolution being acceptable viewing on the much larger home HDTV sets. 720p60 would be preferred, with 720p30 being acceptable, while the earlier mentioned wide SD 854x480p30 will work relatively well for the home HDTVs below the 37” screen. We are now getting back to the 720p60 being the preferred HD ENG/EFP format for local TV stations, easily scaling to 720p30 and to 854x480p30.
Triple format simulcast streaming leaving the TV station? Don’t confuse this with a TV station’s website. We’re talking about a separate live scaled streaming over the internet of the main HD channel OTA. Thus, a reasonable approach to get maximum internet audience coverage is to stream three versions concurrently: 720p60 for home viewing on “wired net-connected” HDTV sets, 854x480p30 for wireless viewing on “larger in-car displays”, netbooks and tablets, and 420x240p30 for smartphone viewing. There may be a business model here for the 4G wireless providers. Sprint (and the others) may determine that a sufficient number of local 4G subscribers may each pay $15 per month for the privilege of being able to receive live wireless streaming from all (participating) local TV stations (including related data transfers), which subscription revenues then may reduce or even eliminate any “reverse retransmission fee” demanded by the 4G providers. In the 5 million commuter LA DMA, if 10% subscribe to “local 4G mobile television” each at $15 per month, annual additional 4G revenues just for the LA market will approach $100 million. On a U.S. national scale, with LA DMA being about 5% of the national TV market, this is a $2 billion annual market at 10% subscription penetration, but in the longer term may be significantly larger.
Mobile DTV or 4G Mobile TV? The Author believes the story so far in here is starting to favor 4G Mobile TV. Read on.
The “Big Stick” (M)DTV Antenna vs Hundreds of Local Cell Towers:
The Author is in the start-up phase of testing Mobile DTV reception in the LA DMA, having recently purchased a 7” Mobile DTV/DTV receiver/display as well as an In-Car tuner/receiver (no display). The “Big Stick” DTV antennas of the major TV stations are on Mt. Wilson, at an elevation of about 5,700 feet with “big stick” TV towers going up many hundreds of feet from there, resulting in effective antenna height of about 6,000 feet above sea level. (HAAT is lower due to surrounding hills.) The Author’s home in the San Fernando Valley has line of sight to Mt. Wilson about 25 miles away. HDTV OTA reception with small outside directional UHF antenna produces excellent pictures on 56” HDTV set.
Limited testing at home inside and on-top-of-dash with 7” Mobile DTV receiver/display (using foot-long pull-out antenna) does not yet convince the Author of wide-area reliable Mobile DTV reception. Once in a strong signal area, reliability was very good at interstate highway speeds up to 70 MPH, but, with LA’s many freeways, there were loss-of-picture for miles at a time when driving in “DTV signal shadow areas” while cell phone coverage was still excellent at high speeds. However, the Author has not yet tested reliability of 4G video streaming while moving fast in a car.
Qualcomm’s FLO (mobile) TV, now being discontinued, was based upon a limited number of up to 50kW “cell” transmitters on UHF Ch.55 in any covered metro market, using a OFDM carrier scheme with QAM or QPSK modulation. The commercial failure of FLO is not believed to be because of poor or unreliable reception, as the basic FLO wireless transmission format was developed to provide reliable reception in a moving vehicle at speeds exceeding 130 MPH (200 km/h). As 4G wireless transmission technology is based on OFDM and similar modulation schemes, 4G should have excellent “fast moving” reception capabilities.
There are hundreds of local wireless cells covering the greater LA area, offering good cell phone coverage of “shadow areas”. If a problem is uncovered, the a new cell is installed to accomplish a nearly complete coverage of the metro freeways where the traffic flows (covering those 4.5 million daily commuters). That is the objective of the wireless cell system, to cover the areas where the mobile customers frequently travel. This is NOT the primary objective of the “Big Stick” TV station antenna, which primary objective is to provide the best OTA coverage to maximum number of fixed location households in the DMA. The areas with heavy traffic through hills and valleys, but without significant population, may not be properly served by the “Big Stick” high power antenna, particularly when it comes to fast moving in-car Mobile DTV receivers.
Preliminarily, the Author believes that 4G wireless video streaming will provide significantly better coverage throughout a served DMA than would the “Big Stick” ATSC M/H (Mobile DTV) transmissions.
Fastest Mobile TV adoption:
By 4G Subscribers or Mobile DTV Set Owners?
The Future of Mobile Television
The Author believes that mobile television will grow significantly through this decade, particularly in the area of local mobile television watching. The current Mobile DTV approach is a difficult business model while 4G mobile TV is an easier proposition
The MAIN Reasons why Mobile DTV is a difficult business model:
- Require users to purchase Mobile DTV receiver (with built-in or separate display)
- Major DMA market Mobile DTV coverage is likely to have many dead spots along significant traffic arteries
- Possible early Mobile DTV success is likely to exponentially increase 4G wireless competition in local mobile television delivery, to the detriment of ongoing Mobile DTV consumer adoption
The MAIN Reasons why 4G Mobile TV is an easier proposition:
- No hardware to buy. Users can receive and display mobile TV programs on existing 4G consumer devices
- 4G signal coverage generally very good throughout a major DMA along all significant traffic arteries
- Early 4G success in local mobile television watching is likely to materially damage the ability for Mobile DTV to fully develop commercially
Mobile TV’s success rests with Local News, Traffic and Weather, as does the long term existence of Local TV Stations
In the Author’s opinion, local TV stations without significant news operations will see a very tough competitive environment in the future, as movies-on-demand and syndicated TV episodes becomes more-and-more available through many sources OTT through wired and wireless internet, making non-local-news TV stations “a thing of the past” by the end of this decade.
In the Author’s opinion, the future of Mobile TV by broadcasters must be based on Local News, Traffic and Weather, acquired and produced in HD for the primary DTV channel, and likely simulcast as scaled down internet streaming over local 4G cells, in “joint ventures” with the 4G service providers. Only local TV stations with full HD news operations will flourish as traditional TV stations through this decade.
HD News and live HD ENG make your local TV station highly competitive
Today and tomorrow. The sooner, the better. Accordingly, the Author believes it to be essential for any TV station, with or without a mobile television business model component in its future, to transition to full HD news including live HD-ENG at the earliest time, and to accomplish such in the most cost effective way while maintaining local news leadership with options open for the future. The ProHD family of camera/recorders is one source of highly cost effective HD news acquisition tools. With nearly everything now coming up progressive, shooting and producing in 720p60 for HD newscasts will make your TV station ready to easily scale to any mobile television streaming format, whether your studio and OTA format is 1080i or 720p.
Current and future flexibility, cost effective operations and buying more for less are the virtues of the JVC ProHD range of fully professional HD camcorders and cameras, ideally suited to support a highly competitive local TV station operations for years to come. On Air. On Time. On Budget.