Virgin Mobile is joining the mobile television movement. But unlike other trials and commercial launches which use either 3G or digital television technologies, the Virgin pilot will deliver three television channels using digital audio broadcasting (DAB) spectrum.
One thousand Virgin Mobile trialists will be able to watch Sky News, Sky Sports News and new music video channel Blaze, and listen to 50 radio channels within the M25 area. The digital radio spectrum is being provided by a joint venture of Digital One, the national digital multiplex owned by GCap Media, and BT.
Chris Hutchings, ventures director at BT Wholesale, said: "BT ? intends to be Europe's first commercial mobile entertainment service to deliver broadcast TV and entertainment services direct to DAB-enhanced mobile phones and media players."
Rival operator Orange last month launched a mobile television service running on its 3G network. O2 is conducting a pilot mobile television service in Oxford using the DVB-H digital television standard. DVB-H requires the release of new spectrum by regulator Ofcom before operators can launch their services.
That could take another three years, whereas digital radio spectrum is available today.
"In the long term both [DAB and DVB-H] are likely to coexist," a BT spokesman told Reuters.
"However, in the short to medium term, the availability of spectrum and transmission networks will result in country by country differences."
Meanwhile, Orange says it expects to have 1m French customers for its mobile multimedia services within a year. Orange is rolling out two high-speed data technologies—3G and EDGE. While slower than 3G, EDGE has the advantage of being cheaper.
In France, where Orange has also launched a 3G service with 42 television channels, it will launch EDGE services on June 9. It aims to have attracted 2m customers for the 3G and EDGE services by the end of 2006.
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