Telcel tunes into mobile TV

James Middleton

August 27, 2008

2 Min Read
Telcel tunes into mobile TV

Mexican mobile operator Telcel, a subsidiary of America Movil, said this week it has launched a mobile TV service in Mexico.

The carrier has teamed up with content distributor and mobile TV platform ROK Entertainment Group to launch Ideas TV, a streamed, live and on demand mobile TV subscription service, delivered over Telcel’s 3G network to 45 main cities nationwide.

Ideas TV offers ten channels, including three live channels and seven pre-recorded looped channels. The service is available to both prepaid and postpaid customers in different packages ranging from daily rates to monthly subscriptions. The channels available include MTV, Nickelodeon, TV Azteca, History Channel, A&E and the Discovery Channel.

Pricing may be key to the service’s uptake, as to date, mobile TV has struggled to win a foothold in the mobile market. Operators have experimented with a number of technologies, with limited degrees of success. While DVB-H has won support in Europe, through its backing by the EC rather than overwhelming operator support, other technologies like DAB-IP, have crashed and burned.

Now, with the global credit crunch and soaring power prices, investment in new technologies and mobile TV infrastructure looks even less likely, argues Dermot Nolan, director of the TBS consultancy.

Nolan notes that South Korea and Japan, have shown that the free to air terrestrial TV model can be a winner on mobile. By February 2008, South Korea’s six-channel free terrestrial T-DMB had around 10 million customers and the 19-channel TU Media pay-satellite service had only 1.3 million customers. In Japan, a quarter of handsets have mobile TV and recent figures from broadcaster NHK indicated that about 20 million handsets were in use. The latest handsets include diversity reception, further improving the mobile-TV service that is available to 80 per cent of the Japanese population.

Recently, Chinese vendor ZTE announced that it will be packing free to air mobile TV capabilities into a number of its handsets under an exclusive global deal with chipset manufacturer Telegent.

Weijie Yun, president and chief executive officer of Telegent, said that while vendors and carriers hadn’t exactly been backing the wrong horse with their focus on next generation mobile TV services, they were missing a great opportunity by largely ignoring free to air terrestrial broadcasting.

“The big problem is that no one believed that terrestrial TV could be made to work on the mobile, but I beg to differ,” he said. “Using the right chipset and antennae, it works fine and the key benefit [with analogue terrestrial TV at least] is that it requires no additional infrastructure.”

About the Author(s)

James Middleton

James Middleton is managing editor of | Follow him @telecomsjames

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