Mobile TV for the masses


Mobile TV has yet to set the consumer market alight, since O2 dipped its toe in the water five years ago with trial transmissions using GPRS data on its first generation of XDA smartphones.

Those trial transmissions of Sky News and CNN to a selected few staff at O2s Slough headquarters proved two things: first, that mobile TV is possible on a mobile handset; but, second, that the bandwidth then available on GPRS was inadequate for anything but very basic viewing.

Fast forward to today, however, and we have mobile TV available from 3, Orange and Vodafone using on-network streaming technology.

Virgin Mobile also offers its own mobile TV service on the chunky and oddly named Lobster mobile, with a selection of free and chargeable TV stations.

And then we also have ROK TV, an independent company that offers a range of free and pay TV channels to users of both GSM and 3G mobiles.

But will it ever take off? One drawback for users is that, while consumers have said they like the idea in polls, and have enjoyed a number of free trials, its a bit pricey.

This is an issue for ROK TV users in the UK, for example, as the companys service is not tied to any network. This means that, unless a customer is on a flat-rate mobile data deal, such as T-Mobiles WebnWalk, users could end up with a hefty mobile data bill at the end of the month. Theres also a proliferation of confusing standards, making mass adoption problematic.

But its proponents hope mobile TV still has the potential to be a killer application áa