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Phone makers turn on mobile TV

Companies teaming up to deliver broadcast programming to wireless handsets

Imagine turning on your mobile phone to watch breaking news or an entertainment program. The idea could soon become reality following an announcement last week that five of the world's largest mobile phone makers are collaborating on specifications to deliver broadcast services to wireless handsets.

Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Siemens and Sony Ericsson have launched the Mobile Broadcast Services initiative.

The initiative is organised under the umbrella of the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), a group of nearly 200 companies that are establishing mobile service specifications to ensure interoperability of services across countries, operators, and mobile terminals.

The mobile TV move comes as the mobile phone industry seeks new content services to generate additional revenue streams.

"We aim to agree on specifications that enable mobile broadcast services, such as how consumers find and receive broadcast content on their terminals and how they pay for it," says Nokia spokesperson Rita Mard.

The manufacturers will align their work with other related specifications, such as DVB-H (digital video broadcasting-handheld) and IPDC (internet protocol datacasting), according to Mard. "We expect the specifications to be available by mid-2005," she says.

New phones will be necessary: "They will need to be able to connect to broadcast transmitters, in addition to mobile base stations," Mard says. "We also expect to see mobile TV-enabled handsets available in 2005."

At last year's Telecom World 2003 conference and exhibition in Geneva, NEC showed a prototype mobile phone equipped with a receiver for terrestrial broadcast television. The phone, designed to take advantage of digital TV broadcasting services, will allow users not only to view programs but also interact with them.


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