The state of mobile digital television is roughly where HDTV
was more than a decade ago: Electronics manufacturers, broadcasters, and
telecommunications giants are battling to be on the winning side of a unified
standard. Among the contenders are Samsung and LG Electronics.
At last year’s CES, Samsung grabbed the spotlight by proposing
a way to broadcast digital TV to screens in vehicles. It called the system Advanced
Vestigial Side Band or A-VSB.
This year LG highlighted its own version, which it calls
Mobile Pedestrian Handheld or MPH. While each scheme purports to be compatible
with ATSC, the digital television broadcasting system in the U.S., they’re
not compatible with each other.
So, when I ran into Bob Seidel, Vice President of CBS Engineering and Advanced
Technology, on the show floor Sunday, I asked him which he
preferred. “Verizon’s,” he quipped, referring to a recently launched system in
which video is broadcast over Verizon’s high-speed network to cell phones.
This afternoon I related Seidel’s response to LG spokesman
John Taylor, a veteran of the HDTV wars. “Oh,” he remarked, Seidel “doesn’t
want mobile to take anything away from HD broadcasting,” A-VSB and MPH each consume
between three to five megabits of a DTV station’s allotted 19.4 megabit bandwidth.
Later I was in my hotel room watching NBC Nightly News in high definition, with Brian Williams ensconced
in a glass booth on the show floor.
Reporter George Lewis joined him to show off a few of the purported 20,000 new gadgets
at CES. One was a prototype MPH handheld TV. I’d snapped a picture of one in
the LG booth just hours earlier.
As the segment concluded, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There
on the other side of the glass was a grinning John Taylor.
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