Top broadcasters are now requesting that Mobile DTV products–even car products–include Internet capability, a development which cause more delays for this new technology.
Suppliers say some major retailers are beginning to ask for Mobile DTV products but now there is a new bump in the road to market.
“Many of the broadcasters would like to have an Internet back channel….a return path of some sort, primarily for the purposes of looking at ratings…They want to know what people are watching,” said Dave Arland a spokesman for the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) that is promoting Mobile DTV.
Car TVs, tablets, and smartphones with Mobile DTV may be required by broadcasters to include some form of Internet connection or it may be “suggested” that products include this connection. Or there may be a tiered structure where a lower tier of products don’t offer Internet, but these will receive only a limited number of Mobile DTV channels.
The OMVC said that new device profiles are being drawn up for Mobile DTV equipment makers, and these will be made public at the end of June.
In general terms, the larger broadcasters want to require an Internet back channel, while smaller broadcasters see the Internet as an option. Some broadcasters, including Fox, will not permit any device to receive their Mobile DTV channels unless it has an Internet back channel, said several industry members.
A car Mobile DTV device would not need an always-on connection to the Internet. It could connect by WiFi periodically or it could have a home dock where it connected to the Internet periodically.
Some or many broadcasters are expected to encrypt their Mobile DTV broadcasts so that the Mobile DTV-ready products without Internet capability will not receive the encrypted signal. It may leave the tier of products with only a small channel package.
“In the end there may be 20 to 40 channels in any market and you may get 3 of those are that are totally non-encrypted,” said a supplier.
The Internet issue, he said, has sent his company “back to the drawing board” on Mobile DTV and so it may “skip the technology” altogether. Within two years, 4G will be more widely available and so there will be other ways of bringing free programming into the car, he said. A second supplier said its Mobile DTV product plans would be delayed.
Winegard has previewed at trade shows one of the few car devices for Mobile DTV with WiFi capability. The company will start selling its CIO Car Mobile DTV system to broadcasters (but not directly to consumers) this month, it said. The CIO system is basically a car tablet that can connect to the Internet via WiFi. It has a built in DVD player and iPod connectivity and you can also connect a gaming system to it. There’s a built-in Internet browser. The current version does not allow for a USB Air Card.
Top photo via TVB.com