Mobile TV took another step forward Thursday when Nokia said it would help to build one of the first dedicated networks for such services, in Finland.
Nokia will offer a service management product for Digita Oy’s Digital Video Broadcasting—Handheld (DVB-H) network. Digita is building the network, which can be used by mobile operators to deliver mobile TV to mobile phone users.
Some operators already offer mobile TV, but they typically do so by streaming the content over broadband third-generation (3G) networks. Many operators say they’re interested in migrating the services to dedicated networks, like the one Digita is building, so they can reserve bandwidth on their 3G networks for other services and to offer higher-quality mobile TV.
So far, few governments have distributed licenses required by companies to build and operate dedicated mobile TV networks. Digita won such a license in Finland earlier this year. It expects the network to be available to 29 percent of the Finnish population, including areas of Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and Oulu, by the end of this year.
The service management product from Nokia will let end users navigate through an interface on their mobile devices to search for available services and programs and also set alerts for upcoming programs. The product will let operators offer different content pricing options and makes it easy for users to buy viewing rights to content, Nokia said.
While Nokia and Digita move ahead, a few roadblocks have been slowing down mobile TV deployments elsewhere. Many operators have conducted technology trials of the services, but few countries even have schedules in place for distributing licenses that allow companies to build the required networks.
Also, operators are still deciding between different technologies, including DVB-H and digital media broadcasting. Qualcomm, best known for its development of code division multiple access technology, has created another option, MediaFLO. A Qualcomm subsidiary is building a network using the technology in the United States. On Tuesday, British Sky Broadcasting said it would be the first to trial the technology in Europe as part of a test in the United Kingdom.
Few handsets exist yet that are capable of receiving mobile TV from DVB-H networks. BenQ, LG Electronics and Nokia are among vendors who say their DVB-H handsets will be available this year.
-Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service
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