ATSC Approves Standard Enabling Interactive TV on Mobile Devices

--A/153 ATSC Mobile DTV Standard Incorporates Extensible IP-Based Transport System

International digital TV standards body, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), on Friday announced that it has officially approved the A/153 ATSC Mobile DTV Standard. According to the organization, the new standard defines the technical specifications necessary for broadcasters to provide new services to mobile and handheld devices (including mobile phones, handheld DTV's, laptops and in-vehicle entertainment systems) using their DTV transmissions. The new services are carried alongside current DTV services, in existing digital broadcast channels, without any adverse impact on legacy receiving equipment, the organization says. Services supported by the new standard, according to the ATSC, include free-TV and interactive TV services delivered in real time, subscription-based TV, and file-based content download for playback at a later time. The standard can also be used for transmission of new data broadcasting services, the organization says. "The ATSC Mobile DTV standard is flexible and robust, enabling a range of services and business models that create new opportunities for broadcasters, device makers and consumers," ATSC chairman, Glenn Reitmeier, said in a prepared statement. "It is particularly noteworthy that ATSC Mobile utilizes Internet Protocol (IP), which will enable broadcast services to be easily integrated with wireless broadband consumer devices and applications, further reinforcing the significant role of terrestrial television broadcasting in the media landscape for decades to come."

According to the ATSC, ATSC Mobile DTV is built around a highly robust transmission system based on Vestigial Side Band (VSB) modulation, with enhanced error correction and other techniques to improve robustness and reduce power consumption in portable receivers. It incorporates an extensible IP-based transport system, the organization says, MPEG AVC (ISO/IEC 14496-10 or ITU H.264) video, and HE AAC v2 audio (ISO/IEC 14496-3) coding.

The ATSC Mobile DTV standard is also billed as providing a flexible application framework to enable new receiver capabilities. According to the organization, receivers that make use of an optional Internet connection will enable new interactive TV services, ranging from simple viewer voting and audience measurement to the integration of Internet-based applications and transactions with television content.

According to the Open Mobile Video Coalition--a voluntary association of around 800 TV stations which seeks to accelerate the development of mobile digital TV in the US, and which last Friday briefed government officials and others on the new standard via a bus-based roadshow in Washington, DC--the services that will be enabled by the standard include "emergency alerts that can be customized by market or location, live audio feeds, datacasting 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."

In related news: Samsung Electronics announced Sunday that it has developed a single-chip solution that is compatible with the new standard.