Broadcasters gear up for cell-phone TV

January 10, 2008 8:22:30 AM PST
U.S. TV broadcasters will be ready to start transmitting signals for portable electronics like cell phones next year, the developers of the technology, LG Electronics Inc. and Harris Corp., said Sunday. The technology represents a chance for broadcasters to challenge cell-phone carriers, who are trying to sew up the market for mobile TV with their own transmissions.

"This is going to let broadcasters get back in the game," said Howard Lance, chairman and chief executive of Harris, which makes broadcasting equipment.

But it's doubtful that the Mobile Pedestrian Handheld, or MPH, receivers developed by LG will make it into cell phones in the U.S. market, which is tightly controlled by the carriers.

LG's president and chief technology officer, Woo Paik, said MPH is also suitable for other portable devices, like media players, navigation devices and laptops. The cost to build TV reception capabilities into these would be "minimal," Paik said at a news conference ahead of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Broadcasters "realize the great opportunity out there in reaching customers who are now more and more on the move," Lance said.

Harris has conducted field trials of MPH in Chicago and Washington. Expanded trials will be conducted this year, and broad coverage is planned for 2009, Lance said.

MPH uses an available part of the digital TV broadcast spectrum, and the necessary equipment is easily added to existing TV towers, LG and Harris said.

Competing technologies include MediaFLO, developed by Qualcomm Inc. and deployed by Verizon Wireless, and DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld), championed by Nokia Corp. and adopted overseas.