Mobile TV pilot begins in Finland

Von Computing SA

Digita Oy, Elisa Oyj, Viacom Inc."s MTV Networks, Nelonen, Nokia Corp., Sonera and YLE (The Finnish Broadcasting Company) Tuesday started a mobile TV pilot in Finland.

The project aims to test mobile TV services and consumer experiences, as well as the underlying technology, with 500 users in the Helsinki region.

Selected from Sonera and Elisa mobile phone customers, the test users are intended to be able to view real-time TV and radio programs on a Nokia 7710 smart phone, which is equipped with a special accessory to receive mobile TV broadcasts. The Nokia smart phone also aims to enable direct links to the Internet for access to background information on TV programs or sports results. Test users have access to MTV, YLE and Nelonen programs, as well as international theme channels, such as CNN, BBC World, Euronews, Eurosport, ViVa Plus and Fashion TV.

The pilot will continue until June 20. Elisa and Sonera are responsible for customer service, invoicing and connections to the new interactive supplementary services; Digita has designed and built the digital TV network needed for the distribution of mobile TV services, and will manage the network; while Nokia will develop the mobile TV service management and smart phones that can receive mobile TV broadcasts.

The mobile TV test uses IP Datacasting (IPDC), which conforms with the DVB-H standard. At the end of 2004, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) adopted DVB-H as the standard for European mobile television services, aiming to enable the simultaneous transmission of several television, radio and video channels to mobile devices.

The first mobile TV service experiences in Finland happened via a friendly user test carried out late last year. The test showed that people like to watch mobile TV in cars and other means of transport, and in public places, such as cafés. Watching mobile TV at home and in the workplace was also common. The most usual time was in the mornings and afternoons and early evening.

The test users were interested in news, weather, sports, current issues, entertainment and drama and comedy series. Mobile TV was also considered as a complement to the traditional television. What appealed most to test users was the fact that users can watch mobile TV anywhere that they like. According to the results, most of the test users would be prepared to continue using mobile TV services.