ntl Broadcast, the transmission company now owned by Australia's Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group, has revealed the channel line-up for the UK's first trial of live digital television to mobile phones.
The initial batch of channels for the six-month Oxford trial in partnership with mobile operator O2 will include factual entertainment, music, sports and news services.
Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery Channel, Sky Sports News and Sky Travel are among the 16 channels to go live in July prior to rollout to 350 O2 customers in September.
Triallists will view the channels using the new Nokia 7710 handset. ntl Broadcast, which had been owned by the UK cable group ntl before being sold last December to Macquarie for £1.27bn, said the trial would "test and showcase the televisual capabilities of the next generation of mobile phones".
The six-month trial will use the DVB-H broadcast transmission standard, specially designed for handheld reception. DVB-H is a 'one-to-many' distribution platform, unlike the 'one-to-one' video streaming experience offered by GPRS and 3G telecommunications networks.
Terry Howard, head of media business development at ntl Broadcast, said: "We have had overwhelming interest in involvement from across the broadcast and media sector and we're delighted to be able to welcome on board the first batch of major broadcasters.
"We know from our own research that well over half of UK mobile users are very interested in watching their favourite TV programmes on their mobiles, which is why we are aiming to put together such a compelling channel line-up.
"This trial will give a useful insight into how the new technology performs, and we intend to use that information to inform the broadcasters, mobile operators and Ofcom about the consumer appeal of the service. We look forward to welcoming other channel providers and terrestrial broadcasters on board for the trial."
Dave Williams, O2's chief technology officer, added: "We see this trial as a key way to understand how to provide mobile users with a useful and entertaining service while out and about.
"It will give us invaluable insight into how to structure the service offering for consumers, and, because of this, popular and well-known content is crucial to the trial's success. We believe that mobile broadcast TV has the potential to sit alongside our existing customer services based on GPRS and 3G mobile data networks.
"Mobile broadcast TV aims to be a cost effective method for transmitting high quality content from one source to multiple customers whereas 3G is ideal for providing bespoke content to users."
ntl Broadcast is building a broadcast network of eight DVB-H transmitters to cover 120 square kms centred on Oxford that will enable the participants to receive digital television on the move. Triallists will be recruited within the Oxford ring road catchment area and will be aged between 18 and 45 years of age.
Macquarie plans to rebrand ntl Broadcast next month.
Meanwhile in Finland, Nokia announced it would release technical details about its DVB-H mobile TV system to help service providers offer customers the possibility of watching television on their handsets.
The air interface specifications for DVB-H will provide information on how mobile TV terminals interconnect with the network end of the service.
"Operators and service providers want to know how the interoperability of terminals from different vendors can be ensured. By making this interface specification public, we are emphasising our commitment to open standards and interoperability as a means to enable positive market development ", said Richard Sharp, VP Rich Media, Nokia.
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