Boston public TV stations WGBH, WGBY launch mobile DTV

At first glance, the public TV audience wouldn't seem to be the cellphone geeks. Nevertheless, Boston public TV station WGBH and its sister station WGBY are going to find out if its viewers are, indeed, the types who know an app from an ape as the only mobile DTV broadcasters in Massachusetts.

The stations are banking on Boston's reputation as an academic and commuting town to try out the new technology which transmits DTV signals across airwaves to the few receptive cellphones that have been built and deployed, said WGBH's CTO Joseph Igoe.

The station is transmitting its highbrow classical music radio and news over the service which, even Igoe admits, can't be seen and heard by most aficionados because up to now there isn't any receiving equipment to do so. That is expected to change as smartphones and devices that plug into laptop computers are built and enter the U.S. market.

Broadcasters are using mobile DTV as a way to fend off an FCC spectrum grab for the national broadband plan. If the FCC gets the spectrum--and it's still committed to doing so--it would not only eliminate mobile DTV but would add to the must-carry/retransmission burden of cable operators by making local stations more dependent on cable for signal carriage. And that opens the whole can of blackouts and, most recently, net neutrality.

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