Washington D.C. will be the first U.S. city with free mobile digital TV broadcasts. The consumer trial will begin later this summer, and will broadcast the programming of local CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX and Ion affiliates to cell phones, laptops, PDAs, portable media and gaming devices, and in-car entertainment systems. The mobile broadcasts will be exactly the same as on TV. "Broadcasters recognize that the successful launch of mobile DTV will make broadcast TV practically ubiquitous," said David Lougee, President of Gannett


"The beauty of the technology is that all parties involved stand to profit. By establishing the consumer trial and R&D model stations, the broadcast community is essentially sending an invitation to device manufacturers: Come test prototypes, build out products and get on board this fast-moving value train that is mobile DTV," Lougee said.

Mobile DTV runs on a digital subchannel of the networks’ existing TV frequency, and requires special hardware to receive it. The infrastructure is inexpensive for broadcasters to implement, costing around $100,000.

The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), a group of commercial and public broadcasters, announced the D.C. trial Monday at the National Association of Broadcasters’ NABShow in Las Vegas.

Many exhibitors at this year’s show are featuring mobile DTV technology, including Dell, which introduced the Inspirion Mini 10 netbook with a built-in Mobile DTV tuner.

"It turns the netbook into a mobile TV, with the keyboard as a stand," said Dell technology strategist James Clardy.

Other vendors, including LG, Samsung and Kenwood, introduced DTV-enabled devices at NABShow.

Mobile DTV Broadcasts will be available in more than two dozen cities by the end of the year, covering 39 percent of U.S. households. Cities include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

In addition to mobile entertainment, the OMVC believes that mobile DTV will be helpful in public disasters and emergencies like hurricanes.

Last week, Raleigh, NC station WRAL launched the first public mobile DTV programming in the country, broadcasting news and data to the city’s buses.

By Mark Alvarez