UK's first DVB-H mobile TV trial goes live

Mobile operator O2, handset maker Nokia and broadcast transmission group Arqiva have released final details of their ground-breaking mobile television trial. Four hundred O2 subscribers in Oxford will be able to watch 16 live television channels when the six-month trial of the DVB-H standard, the first of its kind in the UK, gets under way next week.

The channel line-up includes BBC One, BBC Two, BBC News 24, ITV1, ITV2, Channel 4 and Five, as well as programmes from British Eurosport, Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery Channel, MTV, ShortsTV, Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Travel. Subscribers will be able to select programmes from an on-screen service guide on their Nokia 7710 smartphones, and set alerts reminding them when a show is due to begin.

At a news conference in Oxford, Dave Williams, O2's chief technology officer, called on Ofcom to bring forward plans to release spectrum for mobile TV services in 2008. "As an emerging industry, mobile TV will require a willingness of operators, regulators, broadcasters and handset suppliers to strike new deals. Regulators need to licence new spectrum, which will allow global economies to exist, broadcasters and publishers will need to tackle digital rights issues and operators develop workable revenue sharing partnerships.

"By establishing relationships through activities such as this, we hope that potential challenges will be minimised and mobile TV becomes a commercial reality sooner than is currently possible."

Hyacinth Nwana, Arqiva's managing director, mobile media solutions, said: "We've pulled together an extremely strong and varied 16-channel line-up, reflecting the range of content that our original research identified as desirable for a mobile television service. In Europe all evidence points to mobile TV being mass market. Oxford will address the critical success factors such as scalability, consumer experience, content mix and consumer choice."

Mark Selby, Nokia's multimedia sales chief, said: "The Oxford trial is an important step in the roll out of mobile broadcast TV, building on the recent successful trial in Helsinki, Finland. Consumer reaction and usage patterns will help the broadcast and mobile industries understand what content viewers want to see on this exciting new technology. The Oxford trial will add valuable new research and it will be followed by multiple trials in Europe, Asia and America."

Earlier this month Nokia said its mobile television pilot in Helsinki demonstrated that 41% of participants would be willing to pay for mobile TV services, with half of the 500 users in the trial saying they thought ?10 per month was a reasonable price to pay.

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