CES: LG eyes US mobile digital TV trials later this year

LG Electronics will launch trials of a mobile digital TV system across the U.S. later this year that’s capable of delivering a high-quality signal to vehicles traveling as fast as 225 kilometers per hour, it said Sunday.

The system, called Mobile Pedestrian Handheld (MPH), will offer users the ability to watch their favorite shows, sports events and local news, weather and traffic anywhere the system is offered, said LG.

“MPH sends one or more mobile TV channels by using a small portion of the 19.4Mbps ATSC signal so the existing TV towers can transmit the mobile TV signals along with the existing HDTV channel,” said Woo Paik, president and CTO of LG Electronics, at a CES news conference Sunday.

By piggy-backing on the existing HDTV channel TV stations don’t need to invest in extra frequency spectrum to launch a direct-to-mobile service and that could potentially be a big selling point for the technology. But the same is true of some other systems including one from Samsung Electronics. Systems like Verizon’s VCast and those based on the European DVB-H technology require extra frequency space and that can be an expensive investment for TV or mobile phone networks.

The system is one of several vying to become the de facto standard for mobile TV in the U.S. and has several advantages over competing technologies like Verizon Wireless’ VCast service, according to LG.

Today LG is scheduled to demonstrate the digital TV broadcasting system on a range of devices including cell phones, portable navigation systems and laptop computers. The system was first shown at the National Association of Broadcasters’ convention in April and is currently being tested by KVCW in Las Vegas. Also at CES car audio maker Kenwood is due to show an MPH-enabled car entertainment system.

“The business potential is huge,” said Paik. “The mobile TV market in [the U.S.] can grow to several billion dollars in the next few years.”

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