NAB’s Smith Cuts the Ribbon on Mobile DTV Marketplace

Correspondent Carl Lindemann reports on the opening of mobile-DTV exhibit.

At NAB, mobile digital television is poised to prove its promise. A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Mobile DTV Marketplace in the Grand Lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center recognized the arrival of what may prove to be one of the biggest boons to the industry. Representatives from the Open Mobile Video Coalition, Advanced Television Systems Committee, Consumer Electronics Association, and the National Association of Broadcasters took turns extolling the possibilities and the promise of mobile DTV, and NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith had the honor of proclaiming the Mobile DTV Marketplace open for business.

For Smith, the significance of mobile DTV is more than a new opportunity for station revenues. Instead, he reiterated a message from the breakfast-panel discussion on mobile DTV earlier in the day: The new service is ideal for maintaining communications to the public in emergencies. Because of this, it is imperative for broadcasters to retain the present spectrum allocation for TV.

“How do [broadcasters] keep our spectrum?” he asked. “It’s a use-’em-or-lose-’em situation. [Mobile DTV] is crucial to homeland security. Broadcasting [through this new portable medium] is the way to get information out in life-and-death situations.”

ATSC President Mark Richer noted what the selection of devices gathered in the Marketplace represented. “What we have here is only the tip of the iceberg and is really nothing compared to what’s coming. This shows a bright future for broadcasting.”

OMVC President Brandon Burgess said that “seeing is believing” with mobile DTV and that range of devices supporting it on display at NAB is just the start. He encouraged broadcasters to keep an eye on the upcoming consumer trial in Washington.

“We’re going to see the whole mobile-DTV ecosystem in play come May 3, when nine stations broadcasting 20 content streams provide a ‘friends-and-family’ showcase,” he said.

After the ceremonial ribbon cutting, a tour of the marketplace revealed two broad categories of devices for the new medium. Such manufacturers as LG are offering dedicated mobile-DTV units while others have plug-ins for general-purpose devices, such as laptops or even the newly introduced iPad.

To coincide with the Marketplace opening, the CEA unveiled a section on its DigitalTips.com Website dedicated to mobile DTV. A list of all available devices and services can be found at www.digitaltips.org/video/mobile-tv.asp.