Subscribe
RAN

Netbook bundling could open the back door for US mobile TV

Talking to US companies in and around the market for digital TV standard ATSC, we have been hit by a sudden insight into the way AT&T in particular, a

Talking to US companies in and around the market for digital TV standard ATSC, we have been hit by a sudden insight into the way AT&T in particular, and US cellcos in general, have been thinking about the mobile version, ATSC M/H. They want to bundle it into netbooks and bypass handsets altogether, so instead of seeing mobile TV as a valid technology in its own right, the US cellcos are starting to see it in terms of a tactical warhead in the netbook battle.

Of course mobile broadband is a big battleground and it will be for the next 10 years at least, whereas mobile TV is more complicated and harder to see as strategic in its own right. If no-one successfully launches mobile TV in the US, AT&T doesn’t have to care, as long as Verizon doesn’t have it, – data is where the real mobile battle currently is.

But if the netbook idea succeeds it will mean that at least one of the major cellcos will have a revenue sharing deal with at least one collective of broadcasters, and if that happens, there’s no reason not to try out one or two phones down the line, especially if they are exclusive, which would mean LG getting some US exclusives for a change since it is the dominant ATSC M/H chip and handset suppler, having invented much of the underlying technology.

This means the netbook could be the lever to create early economies of scale in the ATSC M/H (Advanced Television Systems Committee – Mobile/Handheld) chip business, and that would let mobile TV into the US by the back door, where it can slowly grow back into handsets and also into more broadcast stations.

Digital exciters are already in place or being put in at 70 TV stations, to come onstream this year and early next (there are about 30 working so far). If more stations see that there are netbook-based advertising revenues to be had, then it will mean more TV channels, and that in turn will drive adoption.