UPDATE: Jay Adrick, vice president of broadcast technology at Harris Corporation, got back to me to clarify this. “The MPH system will be directed to a wide variety of devices such as mobile auto receivers, PDA’s, lap top computers, dedicated receiving devices and cell phones,” he said. “The station’s business model will determine their focus on devices.”
I’ve also had my attention drawn to a good article in BusinessWeek (which quotes Jay) talking about the way the new technology will disrupt earlier mobile TV efforts. It can be deployed cheaper, but perhaps more importantly it doesn’t need carrier partners — one less link in the value and less hassle agreeing to the details of the service. There’s still the question of getting the chip into the phone and the phone subsidized by the carrier, of course. It’s also likely the free-to-air broadcasters will offer this service for free, rather than charging for it. Would this disrupt the pay-mobile TV business? Omar Javaid, vice-president of MediaFlo International, points out that people pay for cable despite having free-to-air services, and in that sense it will come down to programming. The artcile also quotes Adrick saying that “the MPH technology could also, in a few years, incorporate video-on-demand functionality“.
LG Electronics and Harris Corporation announced that they are launching a new in-band DTV technology called MPH, which stands for Mobile-Pedestrian-Handheld. It is intended to allow broadcasters to send high definition signals to fixed devices and standard signals to smaller handheld receivers, and involves an upgrade to the broadcast towers of between $100,000 to $500,000 per tower. The ambiguity is whether this is intended to target the mobile TV market on mobile phones… The press release doesn’t mention phones but does use the words “mobile” and “handheld” separately, the Reuters article says it is intended for mobile phones while RCR News reports that the MPH system is not intended for mobile phones but rather for other portable TV devices. The RCR story quotes John Taylor, vice president of public affairs at LG Electronics, as saying that the new technology is “totally unrelated to anything cellphone” and is “not a mobile phone cellular solution”. I’m inclined to go with RCR on this one since it seems they specifically differenciated between different portable devices. I’ve sent an enquiry to Harris. The Reuters story notes that Harris/LG have spoken to broadcasters but don’t have any customers to announce.
At CES Samsung launched a similar technology dubbed A-VSB that will require broadcasters to transmit seperate beams to handheld devices with the appropriate Samsung chip (including mobile phones), but which uses spectrum already owned by the broadcasters.
–Samsung Promotes (Yet Another) New Mobile TV Technology; Local Broadcasting Possible
–CES: Samsung’s New A-VSB Mobile TV Standard Explained