Free Mobile TV could be reality by next year (July 18, 2009) — According to the broadcaster-based group, the free mobile digital TV for cell phones, netbooks and other on-the-go devices should be on store shelves by next year.

nokia mobile tvIt will be just like you turn on your TV today at home and watch live and local broadcast television, you will turn on your handset and be able to watch live and local broadcast television,” said Anne Schelle, executive director of the Open Mobile Video Coalition.

The biggest test pond will be Washington, D.C. Trials are underway in cities such as Chicago, New York and Raleigh, N.C. They already have two stations on the air there, and they’ll have the rest of our stations on air by next week.

LG and Samsung are working on prototypes of phones that have mobile digital television tuners in them to receive local TV broadcasts. LG’s Lotus phone, one of the prototypes, has a 2.4-inch diagonal screen when opened.

Dell showed a prototype of its Inspiron Mini 10 netbook with the mobile DTV tuner at the National Association of Broadcasters’ meeting last spring.

The two largest, AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, use a subscription-based service FLO TV, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, which delivers live broadcasts from several cable channels such as MTV, ESPN and Comedy Central over the its own mobile network.

AT&T also offers MobiTV (along with Sprint and Alltel), which is a streaming TV service. It now has more than 7 million subscribers and its service costs about $10 a month.

MobiTV chief technology officer Kay Johansson said the company has worked “extensively with the Open Mobile Video Coalition to help establish the free mobile broadcast standard,” and is “developing ways to integrate free content into our service.”

The technical “standards” for free mobile digital television is “at its final stage,” said Schelle, and will likely be approved by the Advanced Television Systems Committee, which oversees such matters. “

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