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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Handset hassles for TV on phones
Circuit board, Eyewire
BT has defined the hardware for its trial
Telecoms giant BT has been forced to build its own hardware for trials of a pioneering TV-on-mobiles service.

Those taking part in the BT UK Livetime trial get access to Sky news services, a music channel and 50 radio stations.

BT has drawn up its own designs because no phone maker produces handsets that can decode the digital radio signals used to carry TV pictures.

Testers will get BT Livetime either via a specially-created smartphone or a portable media centre.

The four-month trial began on 20 June and uses Digital Audio Broadcasts to beam popular programmes to mobile phone users.

BT first unveiled its plans for Livetime in early June. It has been forced to produce its own specifications for phones and media centres to be used in the trial because no-one else makes such hardware.

"We're the first company outside of Korea to implement mobile TV using Digital Audio Broadcasting," said Emma Lloyd, chief commercial officer at BT Livetime.

LIVETIME PARTNERS
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Sky
Microsoft
Arqiva (formerly NTL Broadcast)
HTC
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Digital One
Triallists will either get a Windows smartphone or a Windows portable media player to watch the channels. Taiwanese hardware firm HTC will make the smartphone prototypes for the service.

"We're seeding the market with two devices," said Ms Lloyd, "but we very quickly expect that Tier 1 manufacturers will adopt the technology and bring it to wider usage."

The lucky 1,000 users picked to take part in the four-month trial get news from Sky and Sky Sports as well as programmes from the Blaze music channel. The trial area will fall inside the M25 motorway around London.

Also key to the service is an electronic programme guide that lets people know what shows and clips are coming up.

"One of the things that's going to drive adoption of mobile broadcast services is its ease of use," said Ms Lloyd, chief commercial officer at BT Livetime. "The guide is just like you get on TV."

Silent song

Contrary to press reports, the service will not be offering music downloads in the trial or the first commercial phase that begins in early 2006.

Robin singing, PA
Livetime means the birds have fallen silent
Ms Lloyd said the ability to download music might be added in later phases, but even then BT did not envisage setting up a rival to online download services.

"Because it's a broadcast service, it's only going to make sense to distribute the most popular tracks such as top 10s," she said.

Ms Lloyd said the combination of broadcast and more traditional mobile technology was a very good fit.

"The one-to-many aspect in conjunction with the one-to-one type of stuff that's more unique to you makes real sense to consumers," she said.

Livetime will be a data service broadcast on the digital radio spectrum owned and run by national DAB broadcaster Digital One. Livetime has taken over a popular channel, known as D1 Temp, that before now has been broadcasting birdsong.

Soon after the Livetime announcement the birdsong was turned off in preparation for the trial.

One-time BT mobile service O2 has announced a deal with NTL Broadcast (now known as Arqiva) for trials of its own TV-to-mobile service.




SEE ALSO:
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Microsoft mulls online music move
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