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3G broadcast trials leave T-Mobile in the cold

Bristol sees the future of 3G TV

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Twelve cell sites in Bristol will be used to trial Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (MBMS) over the next three months, with Vodafone, Orange, and 3UK all taking an active role in evaluating the technology along with Telefonica (owner of O2).

MobiTV Inc will be providing the content and client application, while IPWireless will manage the infrastructure and site integration.

MBMS is broadcasting over a 3G network, allowing networks to send out TV signals or similar to all its subscribers without building a new transmission network or licensing more frequencies.

The alternatives include DVB-H and TV over DAB. The former has been championed by Nokia, but requires massive infrastructure that someone will have to pay for. TV over DAB has been launched by Virgin in the UK, but suffers from a lack of bandwidth and other technical limitations that make it a less than ideal carrier.

The availability of new frequencies next year, and the eventual switch off of analogue TV, have been suggested as routes to mobile TV, but MBMS has long been the preferred technology for networks keen to cash in on the money they paid for 3G licenses.

The fact that no additional towers or masts will be needed isn't the only attraction for the network operators. By encouraging handset manufacturers to make MBMS-compatible phones they can keep customers tied in to their networks and continue to try and claw back some of their initial investment. After all, they haven't got that long left. ®

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