Telephone Business Gears Up to Deliver TV

Yeah, I'm going on vacation, really...

But before I head off, here's an interesting link provided by view from afar:

Telephone Business Gears Up to Deliver TV

Telephone Business Gears Up to Deliver TV Via Phone, Cell Phone Lines With Technology Partners

NEW YORK (AP) -- If everything goes as planned, the telephone industry will be all about television in 2005. TV over your home phone line. TV on your cell phone. Few topics have been as popular this past year among phone companies and their technology partners.

"There's one application knocking on the door and consumers are truly hungering for it: real-time TV and streaming TV," Anssi Vanjoki, general manager for multimedia at cell phone maker Nokia Corp., proclaimed at a recent investment conference.

Similarly bold pronouncements have been emanating from a growing list of powerful names, from local phone giants Verizon Communications Inc. and SBC Communications Inc., to wireless chipmakers Qualcomm Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc., to Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and none other than Microsoft Corp.

Such talk is hardly new. But this time telephone companies are backing their words with billions of dollars to upgrade their networks.

Both wired and wireless players are intent on moving beyond simple phone calls, a business where revenues and customers are being lost to price wars and new rivals -- especially with the arrival of cheap voice-over-Internet phone services from cable TV companies, AT&T Corp. and dozens of smaller players.

While the strategy includes video games and other interactive offerings, the biggest revenue target is the cable TV market: In 2004, consumers paid more than $36 billion for their cable TV, and that programming generated nearly $19 billion in ad revenue, according to the National & Cable Telecommunications Association.

Although mobile service providers are rolling out next-generation technologies that are speedy enough to deliver a TV signal, there are limits to how much network capacity they can divert away from phone calls and wireless Internet access. And just as they interfere with calls, gaps in network coverage may disrupt a TV feed.

On the device side, while screen quality has improved, TV presents a challenge in terms of battery life, processing power and storage capacity.

And then there's the pesky question of whether people truly want to watch TV on such a tiny screen and would be willing to pay much extra for it. [ding, ding! we have a winner! -- Ed.]

Nevertheless, the buzz on cell TV has been coming in loud and clear on multiple fronts, with many proponents pointing to strong demand for mobile video services in South Korea. Usage became so heavy on one Korean carrier's network that it withdrew an all-you-can-eat pricing plan and switched to a pay-as-you-go approach.

Sprint Corp. already offers two premium TV services to its cell phone customers, using MobiTV from Idetic Inc., though the quality is crude compared with real television. Sprint won't disclose how many subscribers have signed on, but says the positive response to its first service was a driving force in launching the second this past summer.

Among content providers, Fox recently announced plans to produce one-minute episodes of its "24" television series for Vodafone Group PLC, the world's biggest cell phone company. Disney plans to launch an ESPN-brand cell phone company in 2005 featuring a wide range of sports content including streaming audio and video.

Qualcomm and Texas Instruments also appear to see potential in cell TV. The two rivals are developing competing wireless chips to receive and process TV signals in an efficient, high-quality manner.

Qualcomm is even hoping to address other obstacles to mobile TV beyond its normal expertise.

The company plans to launch a national cellular TV service in 2006 over its own spectrum, broadcasting up to 20 channels for wireless carriers to sell their customers.


  1. The markets for MVIS technology are everywhere. To meet those markets MVIS will have to produce a low-cost, durable, light-weight, compact, low-power, hi-rez color display. I'd like to know a LOT more aobut their progress. Nomad is monochrome. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) project with Canon seems critical to me. If MVIS can do that, we will see the future we hope for. How close are they? What are the remaining technical problems?

    I've seen EVF prototypes at the annual meeting. It produced a beautiful image, but was large and tethered. It also felt qhite warm to the touch, which suggested to me a high power consumption. Spectrum is the color development platform that came out at least 3 years ago. It was/is large and heavy.

    MVIS is filing a lot of patents that cover all sorts of intriguing ideas. They have smart and hard-working engineers that are pounding on these problems. How close are they? How much more cash and time must be spent before we can address the large markets we see all around us?

  2. wow,
    great comment, thanks! I sure don't know the answers to all of your questions but there was a pretty significant announcement of the 7.6M pixel (later updated to 9M pixel) LED multizone microdisplay back in August:

    to my thinking this was the most significant thing that happened this year as the multizone scanning technique using lots of cheapo LEDs seems to have the potential to free us from waiting on green laser diodes for a really rocking consumer head mounted display.


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