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Last Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Mobile TV entices football fans
David Reid
By David Reid
Reporter, BBC Click

Millions of us are tuning in to watch to the World Cup on TV, but some footy fans are undergoing a trial to free them from the tyranny of the television set.

England supporters watch a giant screen
The World Cup is a testing time for Mobile TV

Germany is slowly but surely going football crazy, and with tickets getting scarcer by the day most Germans, like the rest of us, will be watching the tournament on the box.

This might not be the case in a few years time, because football is going mobile.

Munich is home to Siemens, one of the companies that is using the World Cup to test out mobile TV.

Mobile TV is currently only available unicast, which means you can individually call it up onto your mobile. But the aim is to broadcast to the masses, and you cannot get much more of a mass audience than the World Cup.

Picture quality

To make football work in miniature you need to do some tinkering behind the scenes with how the picture looks.

"You don't show shots that are far away, for example," explained Andre Lonne of Siemens. "You get closer to it. Specific areas in the display will have a higher bit-rate, for example.

A woman watches TV on her phone
By 2011, 210 million people are predicted to be using mobile TV
"If you have elements that are fast-moving and that need specific attention because otherwise the eye cannot catch it, the codec or the production scheme will specifically improve the quality in this area, and in other areas the quality will not be that high."

Before we can all carry the World Cup in our pockets, there is the small matter of a standards battle to get out of the way.

Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld (DVB-H) is based on the technology for terrestrial digital TV and is the standard favoured by Siemens.

"It has a very high channel efficiency. This basically means that you are able to broadcast better quality or more channels over the same available frequencies, and as well it is built in such a way that you can easily build interactive services," said Mr Lonne.

Reaching fans world-wide

To find out why interactivity is so important you just have to look at what is in the pipeline elsewhere in the field of sports and mobile phones.

Accenture is developing a virtual sports platform to supply all that post-match analysis that fans lap up.

In UK football the fan-base is not limited to the UK. It is a global sport. It is a global fan-base
Michael Redding, Accenture
It lets you vote on the man, or woman, of the match. You can also place a bet on the outcome or where the first shot on goal is likely to come from.

With all this and more also on the internet the aim is not just to make sports available when you are out and about, but wherever you are in the world.

Manchester, Liverpool and, for that matter, Accrington might be where teams have come from, but where they are going is global.

"In UK football, the fan base is not limited to the UK. It is a global sport. It is a global fan base," said Michael Redding of Accenture.

"Now they can use the internet. The internet goes everywhere, and as a result they can now stream their content, build their brand in any market place and potentially expand their fan base.

"It just comes down to how aggressive they want to be in terms of marketing, in terms of getting the message out.

"They have the opportunity maybe to go into a market place and create a brand that will generate new revenue, which is the coin that powers them to hire the players and the coaching that takes them to the premier league and takes them to the top of the table."

While football clubs have everything to gain from increasing the internet presence and going mobile, so do other content providers.

World Cup ushers in mobile TV era
07 Jun 06 |  Technology
Brits show appetite for mobile TV
17 Jan 06 |  Technology
Mobile TV finally gets moving
13 Jan 06 |  Click


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