An innovative service to deliver live television to mobile phones will be piloted by BT Wholesale and Virgin Mobile this summer. The service will be broadcast on the national commercial DAB digital radio network, operated by Digital One. Listeners with standard digital radios will not be able to pick up the encrypted television channels.
For the pilot, BT Livetime will provide selected Virgin Mobile customers with access to Sky Sports News, Sky News and new music channel Blaze. The four-month pilot of 1,000 users will begin in June in south-east England, within the M25.
Ralph Bernard, Executive Chairman of GCap Media and Chairman of Digital One said: “Datacasting is a key part of the digital radio business model, running alongside the opportunities for advertising revenue. Putting DAB receivers in handheld devices will increase the penetration of our digital radio stations and significantly accelerate audience growth.”
When the full service launches, BT Livetime will enable mobile companies to offer their consumers access to television and radio channels broadcast direct to DAB digital radio enhanced mobile devices such as smartphones and personal media players. This “one-to-many” delivery of mobile TV is a cost-effective method of giving very large numbers of consumers, high quality TV services.
Quentin Howard, CEO of Digital One commented: “Millions of consumers have already upgraded to DAB digital radio in their homes, and now BT Livetime promises to expand the market and the consumer proposition in tremendously exciting ways.”
Chris Hutchings, director ventures BT Wholesale said: “BT Livetime intends to be Europe’s first commercial mobile entertainment service to deliver broadcast TV and entertainment services direct to DAB-enhanced mobile phones and media players. Mobile broadcast TV delivers a significant commercial opportunity for UK mobile operators and is complementary to existing GPRS and 3G services.”
BT Livetime’s wholesale mobile TV service is complementary to mobile operators’ existing GPRS and 3G services, stimulating new revenue growth by delivering a facility similar to the interactive services which currently exist on digital television.
The DAB digital radio technology approach adopted by BT Livetime is the quickest and most cost effective method of giving UK consumers a mobile broadcast TV service. It is based on spectrum availability, existing transmission infrastructure and ease of integration into mobile phones.
Graeme Hutchinson, sales and marketing director of Virgin Mobile, said: “This mobile television service is revolutionary, yet it uses an existing technology which can be used right here, and right now, unlike some other forthcoming mobile TV offerings. We think the service is going to change forever the way people use their mobile phones, and we know our customers are going to love it!”.