ATSC Mobile to Bring Digital TV to Your iPhone?

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) has approved a standard for mobile digital television, which means one day you might be able to watch your local station broadcast directly to your iPhone. In the US, that should include ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC.

Would Apple ever build a TV receiver into the iPhone, given their focus on iTunes digital downloads? If they're considering an FM Radio, why not? With live-pause and tagging technology, it just becomes a value-added feature for users and another potential gateway to iTunes content.

Plus, sports for the sport fiend!

It would not, however, provide access to cable- or satellite -only

[Macworld via TUAW]

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • that would be cool
  • While that would be really cool, how often would you really use something like that? If I could get cable networks, now THAT would be cool. Also: it takes at&t FOREVER to get anything added to their network without it falling apart. We just got MMS with no solution for tethering in sight. I was really jazzed when I got iPhone (and yeah, it's still better than other devices) but so far my experience has been pretty lackluster, and all the fingers point to AT&T.
  • You can watch videos of your favorite NBC shows right now from your iPhone on The quality is spectacular!
  • @Dexter, this would be your local station, so not just the shows, but local news, weather, sports, syndicated programming, whatever they broadcast over the air an you can receive via antenna.
    @Aaron, it wouldn't involve cell data, if my understanding it correct. Like FM radio, it would be a different receiver pulling TV signals over the air, like your TV set at home does.
  • I imagine this would save a lot of battery life as opposed to streaming content from sources like YouTube or I might be wrong here, and I'm not an expert on the various technologies but I know my television antenna uses a lot less power than my laptop's wifi card, or even my iphone's 3g radio. The screen still eats a lot of battery simply by staying lit for a 2 hour movie, but might this allow you to watch a full length movie on one full battery charge?
  • Wow we can all watch all our favorite FOX shows from our phones. Sweet!! Can't wait for this :-)
  • This would be great for Sundays during football season when I have to work! I hate missing the games!
  • I'd use it, I sold my car a few months ago in an effort to become "more green" so I'm in cabs and buses a lot...the distraction would be welcome. Lol.
  • @walky, that would be awesome....
    as of right now, we cant even listen to games on the phone. apple please come out with that fm radio asap!! im missing football.
    also, someone could develop some sort of tivo for the mobile digital tv broadcasts
  • The web app ORB and the APP along with a Media Center PC already does need to wait
  • ATSC should not waste there time. AT&T ( the wanna be owners of the Iphone) hahaha. Just going to cry to apple that this app will run up there bandwidth. Only can have it on WIFi NO 3G/E. Don't waste your time...
  • @OneOfDaKine:
    Read what Rene posted at #4.
    This uses nobody's bandwidth. It requires a separate receiver chip in some future version of the iPhone to receive over the air broadcasts.
    Its a receiver only. Translation, very low battery use. No more than watching a video you downloaded to the phone.
    And "there" is not a replacement for "their".
  • Almost on everypost someone is bringing up tethering, if you you are that despert jailbreak and get PDANET! I had tethering since October 08 which is when I bought my iPhone 3g..
  • And right now with blackra1n it's like jailbreak for dummies! It's EASY!!!
  • @Jose:
    Yes, it should be way lower power than streaming. Your phone's transmitters are not even needed.
    Receivers use very little power, (and to be perfectly pedantic, antennas use none at all).
    It won't happen with any current iPhone models, as it will require, at a minimum one new chip, probably a combination of tuner/decoder. The embedded video format will be h.264 which the iPhone already supports.
    Further, local stations will have to add the digital encoding equipment to their existing transmitters to put this signal on the air. That should not be very expensive.
    It uses their existing frequencies but is a separate transmission than regular home digital broadcast television. (It uses an unused "vestigial sideband" of the current broadcasts. Radio talk for nooks-and-crannies.).
    The standard allows for subscription services, via an optional interactive feed back loop over regular TCP/IP.
    This would allow broadcasters to charge, (think: pay per view) as long as you had wifi/3G access to subscribe/pay.
    Or they may simply fund it out of advertising revenue, since that would be cheaper initially. It remains to be seen what this will cost the stations and how many will adopt it.
    Actual deployment on any real scale is likely two to three years away IMHO, and that's two iPhone generations and one iTablet generation away. Built in obsolescence Rules Again!
    The official announcement, somewhat more informative than either of the links posted in the story above is here:
    However the actual standard is not yet fully on line so the final specifications are not available at this time.
    The candidate standard SUMMARY is here: .
    If ATSC chose the Samsung standard (as it seems at first blush) then the method used is incompatible with the Euro DVB-H standard. But Samsung is an Apple supplier and that might mean early iPhone availability.
    One interesting thing about this standard is that it encapsulates standard IP Multicast technology (one way TCP connections requiring no return transmissions). Since this is already use on the internet, it is well understood and every platform knows how to use it. The receiver would only need to hand these packets off to the TCP stack.
    Further the standard includes methods of transmitting program guides (schedules) and multiple programs at the same time (think Comcast wireless... yikes) and can be encrypted (think porn).
    So the standard is scalable from a single station all the way up to a subscription based comcast like entity. (sigh).
    The full standard is pretty big, and I haven't had time to wade thru it all.
    Interesting stuff.
  • @icebike:
  • Mobile tv on an iphone would not really work on the current type of iphone , the battery drain itself is very large , i have mobile tv on a nokia n96 and after 2hours the battery is dead , mobile tv uses more power than streaming tv over wifi so unless the battery on an iphone can trebble its power i cannot see apple adopting this , maybe an addon like the fm transmitters would bd a better option nokia have not replaced the n96 due to all the problems the phone has an would bring to apple
  • AT&T can't even get their 3G network expanded to all of it's subscribers. MMS took 4 months to roll out after it became available to the rest of the world. Tethering is still taboo. How is AT&T supposed to stream TV? It will most likely be a subscription add on, and have to be WiFi, which will put the strain on the Cable company my internet comes from not AT&T.
    Keep it.
  • Regarding the tethering thing: yeah, I could do the whole jailbreak, but personally speaking: I'd rather not go off reservation (i.e. something that would violate my warranty, and also end up with a bricked phone when things go wrong). I think it's interesting and neat to see all the things that those of you with jailbroken phones can change, but other than tethering and unlocking, most of the changes just appear to be cosmetic in usage and not my central objective. I'd just like iphone to live up to it's "ultimate phone" status and give me what every other smartphone on the planet seems to have.
  • @ Gregory foster, so you sold your car to become more green? So basically, now you burn carbon by taking cabs and busses, while someone else drives your car? How is this greener?
  • Really....
    Who cares about AT&T and the IPhone. Everyone knows that droid is going to take over the market and I am quite sure they will give you access to something like this before AT&T would.
    Sprint has streaming TV on there phones. You should check it out if that is what you are looking for.
  • This is a real dynamic idea, not only for apple products. If anyone living anywhere could get their local market via wi-fi, there would be no more complaints about having low signal strength and missing channels. Due to fcc regulations, there would be strict adherance to the market available based on zip code, but it would make people in rural areas without local digital transmitters happy.
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