Mobile DTV Delayed Til Holidays

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The in-store launch for Mobile DTV—free digital DTV to portables and car TVs—has been delayed until the pre-Christmas season, we learned Tuesday night at the official press kick-off of a Mobile DTV test trial in Washington DC.
Pioneering suppliers including LG Electronics, Dell and Valups have delayed their launches with LG citing two main reasons. First, suppliers must clear up a point of law before they can sell the devices. The All-Channel Receiver Act (1962) says all digital TVs must also have analog tuners, but the new Mobile DTV tuners are all-digital (as analog TV got the kill switch on June 12). The law came up in discussions between suppliers and the FCC a few months ago. So the FCC has put resolving this issue on the fast track and LG hopes it will be solved by summer. As a result the Tivizen—a tiny tuner that adds Mobile DTV to a smartphone or portable– won’t be shipping as planned in May.
Second, national retailers are waiting to take on the product until enough TV broadcasters have converted to the new format, said LG. Currently about 45 out of 1600 broadcasters have adopted Mobile DTV, and the level is expected to climb to over 100 by year’s end. At that point there should be sufficient broadcaster support for a retail launch. LG VP public affairs and communications John Taylor told us, “When you get to the holiday season, we’re confident there will be a sufficient number of broadcasters to entice retailers to pick up the product.”
Leading broadcasters appear bullish on the Mobile DTV format and they were out in force Tuesday at the press event along with industry leaders. “Mobile DTV is here, it’s real and it’s getting ready for prime time,” said former Senator Gordon Smith now president and CEO of the National Assn. of Broadcasters. Head of the Consumer Electronics Assn., Gary Shapiro added, “This isn’t just about a TV in the back of a car, it’s about TV wherever you go.”
The CEO of Fox TV Stations, Jack Abernathy spoke up about another issue that’s been dogging Mobile DTV. In March, the FCC suggested broadcasters give up some spectrum to make more room for broadband. The FCC has said it specifically supports Mobile DTV, but now no one is 100 percent sure how much spectrum TV stations will eventually be left with, and if there will be enough spectrum for Mobile DTV. But Abernathy and others last night said this isn’t stopping Mobile DTV progress.
“The FCC’s plan could take 8 to 10 years. We are going to get Mobile DTV up and running 4 times faster,” said Abernathy. By then the hope is we’ll all be watching free Lost reruns on our cloud phones and heaven help the Feds if they try to take it away.
As for now, the Washington test trial will run another three months. It includes a Mobile DTV version of the Samsung Moment phone that is now in the hands of hundreds of test-trialers and a Mobile DTV Dell netbook (based on the Inspiron Mini 10) that will reach 300 people over the next couple of weeks. Other users are getting an LG portable Mobile DTV player or the Tivizen tuner for smartphones, netbooks, etc. made by Valups. The users are receiving programming from 9 TV networks.
For the rest of us, Dell said a Mobile DTV Inspiron should be available to consumers by the end of the year or early 2011. The netbook includes a dual HDTV and Mobile DTV tuner. Also a Dell Mobile DTV USB dongle may be released at the end of the year.
LG is looking at a pre-holiday launch for its $249 portable Mobile DTV/DVD player (DP570MH) and Samsung is hoping to see Mobile DTV cellphones in 2011 said Samsung VP govt. and public affairs, John Godfrey. In other countries where Mobile DTV has launched, the feature has been widely adopted in mobile phones, with about a 50 percent penetration within a couple of years, he said.
–Amy Gilroy
Source: CEoutlook
Photo captions: LG’s 7-inch portable DP570MH Mobile DTV/DVD player is due later this year at an expected $249. CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro speaking at the Mobile DTV press event Tuesday.

Video by Samsung

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