Your Mobile Phone Deals Out your Fix of TV

By: Andy Adams

How many times have we been stuck on the commute to work, having to put up with a screaming child or the tinny noise of a teenager at the back of a bus, destroying our hearing as they listen to music at ridiculous volumes?

It can leave you wishing you were back home with your feet up, watching some daytime TV and sipping a nice cup of tea. Well, now you can bring some of that experience to the same tiresome commute - cup of tea optional, of course.

The reason for this is that it is now possible to watch digital TV on the go on some mobile phones.

As with most technical advances, the introduction of mobile TV originated in Japan. When the new digital TV format came out it was divided into 13 segments, one of them dedicated to mobile broadcasting. And so 1seg, taken from the "one seg-ment" it occupies, was born.

Japanese mobile users were able to watch both regular TV content as well as dedicated content for mobile phones only. Initially content was restricted to news and weather broadcasts, also the more specific, such as earthquake warnings!

This technology was embraced by the mobile phone users in Japan, many of whose 90 million inhabitants already rely on their mobile phones for functions such as video calling, emails and listening to MP3s.

However there were teething problems: users complained that the signal was weak and that there were dropouts of service when moving at speeds of 20mph or more on public transport. Also, the added power consumption meant users could only watch programming for between 30 minutes and one hour.

The technology has not been fully supported by mobile networks since they are unable to make money from the technology.

Some companies have suggested being able to download a TV show's theme song as a ring tone after the show has aired, but ideas like this have been rejected as not everyone would obviously do this in common practice.

This hasn't stopped manufacturers releasing these 1Seg handsets, however, and it seems that a few years later down the line that the UK has its own equivalent.

Orange now offers "Orange Mobile TV" services to a wide range of handsets from Nokia and SonyEricsson. The company has set up a subscription service where mobile phone users can select from different groupings of channels, ranging from a selection of channel programmes for ?5 a month, to 28 digital TV stations for ?10 per month.

This full package contains many popular TV stations that can normally be seen on UK cable and satellite, including ITV, BBC 1, CNN and Eurosport, with other specialist channels from National Geographic through to WWE Wrestling.

This service obviously favours handsets with larger screens, such as the Nokia N95 or SonyEricsson's W950i, but Orange's site states that over 20 handsets currently are supported and that most 3G handsets will be able to run the service. It is unknown whether other operators are going to add TV capabilities to their service soon.

This is just the latest development with mobile phones, devices which already fulfil the roles of other personal gadgets such as cameras, MP3 Players and computers for emails and internet access. If the television function takes off, we may soon see most of our household electronics condemned to being replaced by an all-in-one gadget that fits in the palm of our hand.

Cell Phones
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