Mobile Video

MetroPCS Kicks Off Mobile DTV in the US

Mobile digital TV has been a nonstarter in the U.S., but MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) is taking the first step toward changing that with its Dyle Mobile TV service, announced Wednesday.

Through a partnership with Mobile Content Venture (MCV), the regional carrier will offer a live, local broadcast app loaded on an Android-based, Long Term Evolution (LTE) Samsung Corp. smartphone with a Samsung tuner built in. The phone, the first in the U.S. to support local DTV, will launch later this year, but will be on display at next week's Consumer Electronics Show.

The Dyle Mobile TV service relies on ATSC-Mobile technology, championed by the Open Mobile Video Coalition and supported by 15 major broadcast groups. The companies say the service will be available at launch on more than 72 stations in 32 markets, although the number of stations available in each market will vary. (See CES 2011: Mobile DTV Ready for Prime Time?)

Why this matters
Mobile TV hasn't exactly been a popular service in the U.S., where high-profile failures like Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)'s FLO TV dominate headlines. But, mobile DTV has some distinct advantages. One, it doesn't rely on the cellular phone network, instead repurposing broadcast spectrum, so there's no danger of running up wireless data charges.

Second, broadcast TV is the content that consumers already enjoy in their living rooms. And, third, it's low-cost ... potentially. Salil Dalvi, co-general manager of the MVC and SVP of digital distribution at NBC Universal , says any number of business models are possible, including ad-supported or freemium. MetroPCS will announce its pricing closer to launch.

The service is not, however, without its challenges. Chipsets to embed the technology are expensive, consumer demand is currently low and it requires wireless operator support to embed the tuners and promote the service. But, MetroPCS getting on board is an important first step, and Product Manager Stephen Jemente says it's the perfect complement to the on-demand services carriers already offer.

"We closely track what our consumers are doing on our handsets and we know they are consuming digital media and video," he says. "We bring them video on-demand over Wi-Fi, and that's very successful. What could be more complementary than broadcast that's live?" For more

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

Sign In