The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) has approved a standard for mobile digital broadcasts. This comes after some bickering between factions promoting different standards finally agreed on a unified standard to promote. Adoption by the ATSC allows hardware manufacturers to start making devices that conform to the standard and broadcasters to start sending out the additional signals required by those devices, which will likely range from cellular phones and MP3 players to laptops.
The larger cellular service providers in the U.S.--Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint--already have television-style offerings among their services, but this new development will allow them to bring live, local television to consumers' handsets rather than just the pre-packaged or slightly delayed cable-channel broadcasts. It's still too early to speculate about when this technology might be available for general consumption, and any excitement over the prospect of seeing your local affiliates broadcasting directly to your handset has to be tempered with fear over the types of prices that cellular companies will set for these new services. Despite widespread adoption in many other countries, there has been little success in turning radio or television broadcasts into a new revenue stream on mobile devices. There's no doubt that the cellcos will try to squeeze out every last nickel from their consumers for this new technology, even though it shouldn't cost much to provide. Still, it's exciting stuff, so stay tuned.