Oxford mobile DTV trial shows high interest

Mobile operator O2 and transmission group Arqiva have unveiled initial findings of their mobile television trial in Oxford: 83% of triallists are happy with the 16-channel service, and 76% want to take it up if offered over the next year.

The trial, which launched in September with 375 O2 subscribers aged 18-44, shows an average viewing duration of 23 minutes per session, with one to two sessions per day. On average, triallists are watching the service for three hours per week, though some enthusiasts are spending more than five hours a week glued to their Nokia 7710 smartphones.

Usage is high in the mornings and early evenings, with users watching in the home, at work and on their daily commute. "Interestingly, the results also demonstrate a lunchtime viewing peak higher than the normal TV pattern, suggesting that viewers are enjoying news, sports and their favourite daytime soaps while on their lunch break," said O2.

The channel line-up includes terrestrial channels from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five, combined with programming from Sky, MTV and other content providers. O2 said demand for additional multimedia services was high, including digital radio, interactive services and 'live' links to channel web sites. Seven out of 10 triallists would like to have digital radio channels included in a commercial service.

Dave Williams, O2's chief technology officer, said: "This trial is further illustration that we are moving from a verbal only to a verbal and visual world in mobile communications, and we are encouraged to see the trial results confirm this.

"We already see a powerful trend among O2 customers to use a wide range of visual services such as video downloads and streaming, interactive games, various messaging services with live or streamed video, music including radio and a whole host of web portal services.

"Broadcast TV for mobile can be a powerful new service that further enables users to personalise their mobile handset so that they can always have the content they want. We call this trend 'Personal TV' and the addition of TV content digitally broadcast straight to your mobile is a huge part of that vision."

Dr Hyacinth Nwana, Arqiva's managing director, Mobile Media Solutions, added: "The Oxford Mobile TV trial has proved there is a market for mobile broadcasting and now we're looking to make it happen with the collaboration of the whole industry.

"The trial is proving that mobile multichannel broadcasting, including TV and radio, is mass market in addition to meeting consumer demand for content and choice of programmes. We have also demonstrably proven scalability, even if we have to deliver to millions of handsets simultaneously."

Full results from the DVB-H trial will be released in the spring. Last week BT hailed the success of its four-month mobile TV trial, which used DAB digital radio spectrum. Two-thirds of customers would be prepared to pay up to £8 per month for the BT Movio service?formerly known as BT Livetime?said BT, which now plans a commercial launch for the service later this year.

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