WOWT Tests Mobile Digital Television

By: Ann McIntire Email
By: Ann McIntire Email

Some truly ground breaking news was announced Thursday by Channel Six at the Nebraska Broadcaster's Convention. A new computer chip is in production right now that will allow Channel Six viewers to receive our TV signal, on hand-held devices, no matter where you are in the coverage area.

Let us introduce you to the future of television. "It's not necessarily I-Pod type video, or web video. This is video that is streaming wirelessly, directly from our transmitter," said Vice President of Technology for Gray Television, Jim Ocon.

He is working with Channel Six as a test plan, making WOWT the only station in the market with the technology right now. Mobile Digital Television transmits WOWT's live video, to hand-held devices.

The catch, there needs to be a receiver chip built-in. Because this is so new, those chips are very limited.

"The chips themselves, the little tuners, are actually being built as we speak," said Ocon. "So we expect to see the first consumer devices available at the stores in early 2010 if not the end of this year."

"This gives me goosebumps," said General Manager of Channel Six, Charlie Peterson. "This is the future of the television industry."

Peterson has one of the few cell phones with the built in chip. "The quality is really unbelievable and we're not even working with our better antenna, that we will be installing. So it's even going to get better, but I've been walking around with this, it's really amazing."

Because of a stronger digital signal, the video can be received virtually anywhere within Channel Six's coverage area. "It's designed to work in vehicles or whether you're out on the go, you could have a DVD player with a chip inside, you could have a cell phone, you could have a navigation system, so the possibilities are quite tremendous," said Ocon.

With Mobile Digital Television, it's like having a television in your pocket. Imagine the possibilities during a storm. Viewers will be able to take the hand-held device with them to the basement and have the warnings right in front of them.

"From an emergency alert perspective, I think it's going to be a must, or a need and not a want," said Ocon. "I think this technology is going to save lives."

Best of all, it's completely free. It's not offered through a cable or cell phone provider, so it does not even use cell phone minutes.

"I can't wait to see how quickly this explodes because once you see it working, and once you have it, you're going to want to have it," said Ocon.

For thousands of viewers who have missed Channel Six on the radio, on 87.7, in a few months, if you have a device with the built-in chip, you can take us with you. It will be available 24-hours a day.

There are not yet any devices for sale with the tuner chip installed.
The technology is expected to be availiable early next year or possilbly late this year.

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