The UK's three largest operators--O2, Orange and Vodafone--have started joint trials of delivering broadcast services over their 3G networks. The three-month trial will be based upon Interactive Mobile Broadcast (IMB) and involves 80 consumers in London, Slough and Bath using handsets provided by LG.
While the pilot scheme was announced last year, the trial only just got underway and will allow the operators to test services such as mobile TV using spectrum that is currently not in commercial use within their 3G licences.
This move by the three UK operators represents a unique level of co-operation and indicates renewed interest in the delivery of broadcast services using 3G. Numerous mobile TV trials have been conducted over the last decade using a variety of technologies and handsets, but none have gone beyond this experimental stage to date.
Commenting on the joint trial, an Orange spokeswoman told New Media Age that the operations had joined forces "to explore whether IMB can offer an efficient way to provide broadcast services to customers by using a tranche of 3G spectrum that currently isn't used."
O2 was less forthcoming, only confirming "that the multi-operator pilot using the IMB standard to deliver broadcast services over the 3G spectrum started on 24 January 2011."
All three operators have declined to disclose which content developers are involved with the trial.
Advocates of IMB, which has been endorsed by the GSMA, claims that content can be streamed simultaneously to an unlimited number of devices, and consumes 70 per cent less battery power on devices compared with how video content is currently delivered over 3G networks.
- see this NMA article
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