Nokia touts mobile-TV standard

Trying to spur a slow market, it lifts the curtain on some technology secrets for mobile TV.

Cell phone giant Nokia is revealing details of its television technology to help jump-start the young mobile-TV industry.

Nokia on Tuesday unveiled its version of a standardized method for delivering broadcast digital TV to handsets in the U.S., Europe and Asia. The standard, DVB-H, or Digital Video Broadcast-Handheld, competes with a host of other similar technologies, including Qualcomm's new MediaFlo. Companies supporting DVB-H say it's less expensive and allows a quicker product turnaround.

"We are emphasizing our commitment to open standards and interoperability as a means to enable positive market development," Nokia Vice President Richard Sharp said in a prepared statement.

Aside from Nokia, DVB-H supporters include U.K. wireless operators O2; multicast operator Crown Castle Mobile Media, which plans to build a mobile-TV network; cell phone infrastructure equipment provider UDcast; and a number of chipmakers including Texas Instruments and Intel.

Nokia's move supports the wireless industry's view that there's a sizable market for mobile-TV fare, including movies, news clips and standard programming typically found on living room TVs. If the market for the content is indeed robust, such a service could generate significant new revenue streams for wireless operators.

But so far, Verizon Wireless in the U.S. and other top-tier operators offering TV services are finding them a hard sell, according to research group Informa. This year, Verizon expects to sell only about 130,000 video handsets, suggesting the worldwide market for them is commensurately small.

Sectors harboring high hopes for the mobile-TV market do so because of television's dominance as an entertainment form and the ubiquity of cell phones. Informa concluded in a recent study that 125 million people--about 5 percent of all cell phone owners--will be watching TV on their handsets by 2010.

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