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London produces 3G content

BBC Technology has signed a five-year deal to manage the production of content for Hutchison 3G's forthcoming high-speed mobile network.

LONDON--BBC Technology has signed a five-year deal to manage the production of content for Hutchison 3G's forthcoming high-speed mobile network.

The deal will see BBC Technology producing audio-visual content, and is likely to include the production of video footage of Premiership football action. The firm--a commercial subsidiary of the BBC--will not create any unique content for Hutchison 3G, though. "This is very much a production deal," explained Edward Brewster, head of Corporate Communications at Hutchison 3G.

The deal shows that 3G license holders are putting solid plans in place for the delivery of compelling content for 3G devices. "This shows the difference between 2G and 3G services--you wouldn't need to use these sorts of production facilities for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) services," explained Brewster.

3G will be much faster than today's GSM networks, and will allow users to surf the Internet, send multimedia messages and see snippets of video. Hutchison 3G was awarded a British 3G license after an auction process in April 2000, and is planning to launch a service in the second half of this year.

Brewster explained that this deal is a significant piece of the puzzle for Hutchison 3G, which does not yet operate any telecommunications services in Britain. "Audio-visual content will be an important part of what we offer over 3G, along with voice and multimedia messaging. We had to choose the right partner to produce our content, and this deal gives us access to BBC Technology's expertise," Brewster said.

Rumors of an impending deal emerged earlier this week, after BBC Technology advertised for staff to work on this deal.

Last year Hutchison 3G signed a deal with the Premier League that gave it the rights to deliver video footage of football action to its subscribers. "Premiership footage is a good example of the sort of content that this deal would cover," explained Brewster.

Hutchison 3G insists that it will launch some 3G services in the second half of 2002. Its initial launch is expected to cover some major U.K. cities, and transport routes such as railways and motorways.

Graeme Wearden reported from London.