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'Clear demand' for mobile TV, says O2

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Another batch of research has been produced to suggest that punters are keen to view TV programmes on the move, with O2 claiming there is a "clear consumer demand" for a service that beams digital content direct to mobile phones.

Last September, O2, Arqiva (previously known as NTL Broadcast) and Nokia began trials in Oxford to test whether there's a market for TV on the move. Those taking part in the six-month pilot were each given a Nokia 7710 smart phone to watch the 16 channels - including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Cartoon Network and Sky News - on offer.

According to the first set of results from O2 - which is being acquired by Telefonica - eight out of ten of those taking part in the trial are "satisfied" with the service, while three-quarters say they would take-up the service within 12 months.

Among the 375 taking part in the pilot, the research found that there was a spike in demand at times when people commute to and from work, and also at lunchtime.

"The Oxford Mobile TV trial has proved there is a market for mobile broadcasting and now we're looking to make it happen with the collaboration of the whole industry," said Dr Hyacinth Nwana, managing director of Arqiva's Mobile Media Solutions.

"The trial is proving that mobile multi-channel broadcasting, including TV and Radio, is mass market, in addition to meeting consumer demand for content and choice of programmes. We have also demonstrably proven scalability, even if we have to deliver to millions of handsets simultaneously."

Last week, BT announced plans to launch a TV service for mobile-phone operators later this year following the successful completion of trials in the London area. BT Wholesale had hooked up with Virgin Mobile to beam TV programmes direct to handsets using the Digital Audio Broadcasting network, enabling about a thousand people to access TV and music content on the move.

The telco said the results from its BT Movio trial were "extremely positive" and demonstrate there is "clear consumer demand for broadcast digital TV and radio to mobile phones".

Separately, O2 has announced a deal with eBay to enable its punters to access the auction service from an i-mode-ebabled internet phone. eBay is the 126th web destination available via the i-mode service and joins other sites including Monster.com, Egg, Rightmove.co.uk, Universal and Interflora. ®

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