An American standards body has announced that it will develop its own specification to enable broadcasters to deliver services to mobile and handheld devices. It will be compatible with existing digital terrestrial television transmissions, allowing use of the same frequencies for both high-definition and mobile television services.

The announcement comes from the Advanced Television Systems Committee or ATSC in America, which is responsible for the digital terrestrial television system used in the United States.

“The ATSC-M/H Standard will facilitate broadcasters’ use of their DTV broadcast channels to provide new services directly to small hand-held receivers, laptop computers and vehicles,” said ATSC President Mark Richer. “ATSC-M/H will be backwards compatible, allowing operation of existing ATSC services in the same RF channel without an adverse impact on existing receiving equipment.”

Broadcasters will be able to allocate a portion of their signal to mobile and handheld devices while continuing to transmit services such as high-definition television.

“Development of a standard for mobile and handheld services is a major priority of the ATSC’s strategic plan,” said Glenn Reitmeier, chair of the ATSC Board of Directors. “We encourage participation in our standards development process and welcome technical proposals for consideration by our technology and standards group.”

ATSC-M/H will be developed to support a variety of services including free-to-air advertiser-supported television, subscription, interactive and download services. It may also be used for transmission of new data broadcasting services such as real-time navigation data for in-vehicle use.