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Italy Pioneers Cell Phone TV
'3' launches mobile channel just in time for World Cup
Alberto DOttavi (dottavi)     Print Article 
Published 2006-05-01 14:34 (KST)   
Passionate fans of soccer and among Europe's most high-volume mobile phones users, Italians can combine both their interests, thanks to 3G mobile operator "3," the Italian branch of Hutchinson Whampoa, which launched a digital TV channel for cellular phones.

The cellular phone U900, from LG Electronics
©2006 LG Electr
The so-called "Walk TV" is a new television service that is already broadcasting "free-to-air" channels from RAI (the state-owned station), Mediaset, and Sky Italy to 500 "pilot customers." The company also has exclusive rights to transmit the mobile-TV version of forthcoming FIFA World Cup 2006 games.

Even though 3 states the network is ready and expects to reach more than 65 percent of the Italian population, this won't happen overnight. The new cellular phones with DVB-H capability (the technology behind digital-mobile-TV service; see below) will not be on the market until mid-May. The U900 smart phone, manufactured by LG Electronics, will be the first product to be offered, with Samsung's P910 to follow shortly thereafter.

The mobile operator has also announced "La3," an in-house manufactured mobile television network that will create original content and formats, covering sports, entertainment, cinema and many other topics.

Doubts are still out about the success of mobile TV, even in Italy. But with this move, 3, which focuses on UMTS business and owns a 3G network, has forced its competitors to follow suit.

On the same day, in fact, both Telecom Italia and Vodafone Italia announced a deal with Samsung for offering the SGH-P920 DVB-H mobile phone and plans for broadcasting mobile-TV channels.

Telecom Italia announced that in June it will start to broadcast "Serie A" and Champions League soccer games, in addition to different free-to-air channels. Telecom Italia is the formerly state-owned, incumbent telecom operator for both fixed and mobile lines, and also owns the television network La7.

Vodafone Italia last week signed a deal with Mediaset, the privately-held television network owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's family, but will not commercialize the P920 until the end of summer.

DVB-H stands for "Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld," and is the mobile and compact version of the technologies for digital television.

- Original press release, in Italian 

©2006 OhmyNews

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