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Watch TV on your cellphone soon

30-September-2005
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Watch TV on your cellphone soon

Dutch company Irdeto, in talks with content owners, mobile service providers.

India may soon become the second country to see the launch of satellite TV channels designed specifically for mobile phones.

Dutch company Irdeto, part of a five-member consortium, that rolled out the first satellite-TV-over-the-cellphone service in South Korea five months ago, has reported “encouraging response” to the idea from Indian content owners and mobile service providers.

“We see a lot of potential for satellite TV on cellphones in India over the next three years,” said Thierry Raymaekers, the Holland-based company's managing director for Asia Pacific. Raymaekers is here, heading a delegation, to discuss a tie-up with a south Indian player for rolling out the direct-to-home television service.

The delegation, which also discussed with the music and film industry ways to combat piracy, is learnt to have pushed hard for the mobile operators in India to go with its technology for delivering TV content to mobile phones over rivals such as the Nokia-promoted Digital Video Broadcast (handheld) or DVB-H standard.

The technology, called Digital Multimedia Broadcast Service or DMBS, became the first one to pass the trial stage at the beginning of this year, beating DVB-H which is still undergoing trials.

Both technologies work by implanting chips in mobile phones and other devices that have the ability to capture and process digital signals bounced off satellites specially for the purpose.

The company said that India, with over 60 million mobile phone consumers and double that number of satellite channel subscribers, is a good market for a marriage between the two.

'India has both the mobile subscription base and the satellite TV base to make it happen,' says the company's vice-president for sales, Parvaiz Ahsan.

'Besides, the increasing mobility is only going to fuel consumers' demand for on-the-move entertainment,' he adds, claiming that his company expects as many as 50,000 subscribers to sign up in the first two years after the roll out of such a service.

In Korea, the service already has a dozen TV and nearly two dozen radio channels. Since its launch in May this year, nearly 1.7 lakh Koreans have signed up for the $ 10-a-month service. They are utilising every penny of the $10 they pay.

Though the company refuses to give the cost of putting a satellite receiver with a decoder on the mobile-phone, Ahsan says that such phones are being bundled for around $ 300 (Rs 13,000) in Korea. 'The exact split up of the cost of the cell-phone, the reception equipment and subsidies provided by the service-provider cannot be revealed,' he points out.

Though around 16 brands in Korea have satellite-enabled their devices for the service, a high-end phone with DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcast) brought out by Samsung recently costs around $ 650 (Rs 28,700) when not bundled with a subscription scheme.

Besides phones, DMB reception equipment are also being put on virtually anything with a colour screen and a processor on it, including portable digital video-players, pocket PCs, car-TVs etc in Korea. Japan had already seen the launch of a dedicated in-car satellite entertainment system at the beginning of the year.

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