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TheStreet Open House

Mobile Emergency Alert System Reaches Key Milestones With Test Streams For Device Makers, Standardization Progress





LAS VEGAS, Jan. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- When disaster strikes, public safety officials need an instantaneous way to reach millions of people at once. Superstorm Sandy's aftermath in the Northeast demonstrated both the fragile limits of cell phone networks during times of emergency and the life-saving ability of TV broadcasting.   

A flexible new system being demonstrated next week at the International CES ® combines the reach and reliability of broadcasting with the mobile communications that Americans depend on to stay informed, especially during a crisis.  At the "CES Mobile TV TechZone" (Central Hall 14340), the Mobile Emergency Alert System (Mobile EAS) will demonstrate how a single broadcast can deliver reliable, rich-media alerts to mobile devices anywhere, anytime. 

"Mobile Digital TV is growing with more broadcasters on the air and more devices available to viewers.  Our efforts to deploy the new Mobile Emergency Alert System are also expanding, with the availability of test streams for device manufacturers to incorporate M-EAS as they develop new consumer products. Those streams are available now on www.MobileEAS.org.  We're also working closely with the ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee), which is expected to finish standardization of Mobile EAS by March," said Convergence Services CEO John Lawson, a long-time expert in emergency alerting and key player behind M-EAS.

Equipment Manufacturers, Chipmakers Developing M-EAS Products

Utilizing the newly available test streams, Mobile DTV solution provider Siano and mobile device accessory manufacturer Elgato already are working on future products designed to support Mobile EAS for mobile viewers, in anticipation of the final ATSC standard.  Mobile phone manufacturers, including Mobile DTV leader LG Electronics, also are working on incorporating M-EAS capability into their devices.

Prototype LG smartphones used in the CES demonstrations will offer not only audio and visual indications of emergency alerts, but also a vibrating mode to notify all users (including those with vision or hearing loss) about an emergency.  The demonstrations in the Mobile TV TechZone will show how easy it will be for local TV stations to transmit Mobile DTV signals with rich-media alert content. The simulations will be based on national and local emergency scenarios, including a hurricane threat in North Carolina, a tornado in the Northeast and an impending tsunami on the West Coast.

The 2013 CES Mobile EAS demonstrations are being conducted with the support of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), LG Electronics (which developed Mobile EAS receivers) and its Zenith subsidiary (which provided technical support and funding), and Harris Broadcast (which equips TV stations with the necessary equipment.)  Mobile EAS requires no additional radiofrequency spectrum and is a "dual-use" of existing TV transmitters and towers.  Standards-based equipment to upgrade stations for Mobile DTV transmission is already available commercially.

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