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O2 to launch 'radio with pictures'

Virgin on the ridiculous

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O2 has pledged to become the first mobile phone network to bring Nokia's 'visual radio' technology to UK consumers, courtesy of a tie-in with the Virgin Radio station. It's a "completely new kind of radio experience", apparently.

In the early days of television, the new medium was largely considered to be little more than "radio with pictures". Skip forward to the early 21st Century and you might well think the same description applies to visual radio. According to O2, it's all about providing "interactive mobile content" relating to the song or show a user is listening to.

For "interactive mobile content", read 'stuff we can sell to you'. O2 paints it a mobile version of the RDS station information service broadcast by FM radio stations, but below this veneer lurks the commercial world of downloadable songs and ringtones, ticket sales opportunities and other 'premium' content from which O2 takes its £3 a megabyte data-delivery cut. It's part of the cellco's strategy to boost its revenue-per-user figures by increasing data traffic.

The service goes live next month with Virgin as the first station, though others will be added in the near future, O2 said. Punters will need a Nokia handset, of course, with an FM radio receiver to pick up the broadcasts. The "interactive mobile content" is delivered across the cellular network, synchronised with the show currently on air. Suitable phones include Nokia's new N series and older models like the 3230, 3250, 6111, 6230i, 6270, 6280, 7370 and 7710.

Nokia launched visual radio more than two years ago. ®

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