Aloha Partners, the largest owner of the 700MHz spectrum in the United States, announced it will soon test a new mobile digital broadcast network in Las Vegas. Area broadcasters, that hope to provide local programming to such services as an additional revenue stream, are watching closely.
Based in Providence, RI, Aloha has created a subsidiary, Hiwire, to deliver 12MHz of high-definition television, music, datacasting and interactive entertainment services for wireless carriers and consumer electronic device makers. The company's spectrum covers about 60 percent of the United States, including all of the top 10 markets.
If the tests are successful, Hiwire will sell its services to wireless carriers and consumer electronic device makers, offering a way for them to deliver high-definition mobile entertainment content to their subscribers.
The company did not specify how many channels it would offer, but said it would offer twice as many as any mobile broadcast TV competitors due to its large amount of spectrum capacity. No dates were given for the testing or anticipated service launch.
Hiwire said it would require one-tenth the number of cell sites as competing services using higher frequencies such as 1600MHz. “The use of 700MHz will result in significant savings and capital expenditures which will ultimately result in lower prices to the consumer and a faster time to market”, said Charlie Townsend, president of Aloha Partners.
Hiwire will be testing its mobile TV offering in Las Vegas on UHF channels 54 and 59. It will use the DVB-H platform, the mobile video platform deployed in Europe but rejected by American broadcasters when a U.S. DTV standard was selected. Transmissions will be made to H.264/MPEG-4 enabled wireless devices.
Aloha said the 700MHz spectrum is widely recognized as a superior frequency for delivering television signals to media-enabled wireless devices because of its propagation characteristics. 700MHz can reach deep inside buildings and travel 2-3 times further than other higher frequencies such as 1600MHz or 1700MHz.
Currently, about one out of four of Aloha's spectrum licensees-secured at FCC auctions in 2001 and 2003 can be used for broadband services due to continued use by UHF television broadcasters. This will change over the next couple of years as stations vacate their analog spectrum and move to full DTV transmission.