NTL Broadcast, in partnership with O2, has today revealed the first batch of channels to be part of its line-up for the forthcoming Oxford mobile TV trial, including Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery Channel, Sky Sports News and Sky Travel. The six-month trial - which marks a UK first - begins performance testing in July prior to roll out to 350 O2 customers early in September 2005.
BSkyB, Chart Show TV, Discovery Networks Europe, Shorts International and Turner Broadcasting will be among the organisations providing 16 television channels to be received by O2 customers in the Oxford area using the new Nokia 7710 handset. Designed to test and showcase the televisual capabilities of the next generation of mobile phones, the trial will look at how people choose to catch up on their favourite TV shows, watch the latest music videos and keep up to date with the news and sport when on the move.
The six-month trial will use the DVB-H broadcast transmission standard, specially designed for handheld reception. With its low battery power consumption and robust reception, DVB-H allows an efficient ‘one-to-many’ method of delivering TV content in a way that complements the one-to-one video streaming which is already possible via GPRS and 3G networks. To enable a commercial service to be launched in the UK, Ofcom will need to license spectrum, and the results of the trial are seen as valuable in proving ongoing consumer interest.
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 whilst 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 (2.5G) 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.”
“We are delighted to be involved in this UK mobile TV trial,” said Mark Selby, VP Sales Music & Rich Media business programmes, Multimedia, Nokia. “Nokia research in this area reveals the strong consumer interest in mobile TV services and, with successful trials conducted elsewhere in the world, we expect mobile TV to be a hugely popular application, driving the mobile entertainment market.”
NTL Broadcast is currently building a new broadcast network of eight DVB-H transmitters, using existing structures, to cover 120 square km centred on Oxford that will enable the participants to receive digital television on the move. O2 will soon begin the process of recruiting triallists from the specified catchment area within the Oxford ring road: triallists will be between 18 and 45 years of age, and spend the majority of their day (i.e. live, work or study) in Oxford. Initially, handsets will be provided to all 350 triallists by Nokia - the new 7710 which, for the purposes of the trial, will come with a special DVB-H receiver.