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Mobiles to get super-faster music downloads

Beatnik fits music into one-tenth the bandwidth

US software company Beatnik is approaching mobile phone operators with a new music download system that compresses songs up to 10 times more than the MP3 format, allowing for faster downloads on lower-end mobile phones equipped with the company's software.

Mobile music download services are typically only usable by those who have more expensive smartphones using 3G networks, which have higher download speeds than GPRS, said Jeremy Copp, chief sales officer for Beatnik.

Beatnik's software compresses songs by taking common elements or repeated sounds and only replicating them once in the compressed file. The music player, on the client handset, can recreate those sounds in the right place during playback, Copp said.

The decreased file size means songs download much faster over the same bandwidth, allowing users to start listening to the song as the rest of it is downloading, Copp said.

Beatnik hopes the system will make music download services more appealing in developing markets such as India and Latin America. The faster download capability it offers is good for markets that haven't upgraded to 3G and where users have less expensive phones, Copp said.

Compared to the broadband service offered by 3G networks, "There's still a huge proportion of the market that doesn't have access to that kind of bandwidth," he said.

For the system to work, operators must convert their existing songs to the file format Beatnik uses, Mobile XMS. Beatnik's software also has to be installed on handsets by the phone manufacturers, Copp said.

The company is in talks with operators, handset manufacturers and content providers about adopting the system and expects to announce a partnership in a month, Copp said.


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