Video services

Mobile TV Gets Moving

Wireless email is nice, but the real game-changing application for carriers is mobile TV, according to a slew of announcements from service providers and vendors at the 3GSM World Congress.

For example, Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) is trying to share the love for mobile TV, teaming up with RealNetworks Inc. (Nasdaq: RNWK) to supply its content providers with new mobile streaming servers. (See DoCoMo Signs RealNetworks Deal.)

Virgin Mobile Telecoms Ltd. said it's the first operator to sign up to the BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) Movio wholesale broadcast digital TV and radio service, which it plans to roll out on a "limited exclusive basis to its customers later this year." BT has teamed up with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Taiwanese handset maker High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) for the service, which it plans to sell to all of the U.K.'s mobile operators. (See Virgin, BT Offer Mobile TV.)

Over at Orange UK , this year will see trials of IPWireless Inc. 's TDtv multicast plaform, a technology that allows operators to make use of their unpaired 3G spectrum without affecting voice and data services. (See Orange Trials IPWireless.)

In the Unstrung Insider report Mobile TV: Switching On the Revenue Stream, analyst Gabriel Brown notes that more than 10 mobile operators are conducting broadcast TV trials. "Mobile operators' enthusiasm for mobile TV is undeniable," he writes. "They see it as an effective way to build data ARPU [average revenue per user] and tap into established user behavior. Everyone knows how to watch TV, right?"

While many are skeptical that anyone will actually want to watch TV on their phones, Brown points out that "even if live mobile TV doesn't take off in a massive way, it is already converting a proportion of the mobile user-base into regular consumers of non-voice, visual content on their cell phones, opening up the promised land of rising mobile-data ARPU."

Meanwhile for vendors, mobile TV brings the opportunity to move more product: new chips for handsets, more equipment, more access capacity, core network upgrades, and the software to make it all go. Plus the test equipment to make sure the services work. (See Opticom Tests Mobile Video.)

On the chipset side, Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN), Royal Philips Electronics N.V. (NYSE: PHG; Amsterdam: PHI) , DiBcom , Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) were among those touting new products:

The big equipment vendors also had plenty to say: As did those on the software front:

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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