City of Raleigh, WRAL partner on first mobile DTV venture


Mobile digital television (DTV) rolls into the future as the City of Raleigh, WRAL and the CBC New Media Group joined forces yesterday to announce the nation’s first public deployment of broadcast DTV to mobile devices. The venture will deliver real-time digital television and interactive data to Capital Area Transit (CAT) buses serving passengers throughout the capital city.  Beginning this summer and over the next year, CAT bus passengers will be able to watch WRAL’s local, syndicated and network programming throughout the day in a first-of-its-kind partnership.

”Mobile DTV broadcasting is a major part of our future and we are excited to partner with the City of Raleigh as we enter a new era of technology,” said James Goodmon, CEO of Capitol Broadcasting.  “Mobile DTV enables WRAL to better serve the public by extending our reach with free over-the-air programming and information to people on the go.”

In addition to WRAL programming, CAT passengers will also get city-oriented news briefs, real-time weather and other helpful information on digital screens strategically placed inside buses.

Cutting-edge technology for the project is provided by LG Electronics, Inc. and Harris, co-developers of the underlying technology of the ATSC A/153 Candidate Standard for Mobile DTV.  LG will provide mobile DTV receivers, flat screen monitors and project development and support.  Harris will provide its MPH platform. Two regional companies will also support.  Microspace Communications will provide wireless networking and digital signage system management.  Digital Recorders, Inc (DRI) will provide integration of the communications systems on the CAT buses.

Mobile DTV, based on the emerging ATSC Mobile DTV Standard, allows broadcasters to allocate a portion of their digital channel capacity to reach viewers outside the home.  The Raleigh project demonstrates the viability of mobile DTV as broadcasters explore ways to tap the promising market for mobile television.

RBR/TVBR observation: Mobile DTV bandwidth will likely be the real revenue driver for local TV stations down the road. Many stations are currently toying with how to monetize their extra DTV bandwidth. Getting free, compelling content directly into the consumers’ hand is why mobile DTV development/experimentation/rollout like this is so critical. The demand will jump when the analog TV signals are shut off in June, so the timing of this is good. Future generations of Blackberries, iPhones, etc. will include mobile DTV chipsets, assuming trials like this are a success.