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KPN tempts Dutch customers with mobile TV

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KPN will become the first operator in Europe to launch a nationwide mobile TV service when it begins broadcasting 10 channels across DVB-H next month.

The Dutch operator's service kicks off from June 5 and it will offer TV-hungry customers two handsets, the LG KB620 and the Samsung P960, which can receive the broadcasts.

DVB-H is the handheld version of DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting - Terrestrial) system for digital terrestrial television) and was formally adopted as ETSI standard EN 302 304 in November 2004. It is also the system of choice of European Commissioner Viviane Reding, much to the chagrin of Qualcomm, amongst others.

In Europe, 17 countries have chosen DVB-H as the standard, while five countries also support DMB, including Germany and the UK. However, the Netherlands is the first country to get television-on-the-go using DVB-H nationwide.

KPN's inital offering isn't too impressive though: a mixture of existing Dutch channels along with MTV, Discovery Channel and Nick Toons for €10 a month with more premium channels to come in the near future.

Whether mobile TV will generate enough revenue for KPN remains to be seen. The company believes its audience will watch the mobile TV service during lunch and other breaks, as a short snack.

Vodafone Group's German business head Fritz Joussen this week said he doesn't believe in the business of paying for television on mobile phones due to development of new handsets capable of receiving regular terrestrial TV-signals for free.

At present, the phones are not included with the KPN subscription. The P960 alone costs €499. This recently introduced slider phone offers a sharp 2.6 inch TFT screen, on screen TV guide and Picture in Picture (PIP) that allows users to view two channels at once. There is also a time-shifting feature that shifts TV program schedule when a show is interrupted by incoming calls. Changing channels, however, is relatively slow. Samsung says the handset will last 5 hours on one battery charge.

KPN this week also admitted in is in talks with Apple to sell the iPhone in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is the only European country so far without a distribution deal for the iPhone. ®

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