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TV for mobile phones almost ready for prime time

AMSTERDAM/PARIS (Reuters) - Mobile phone makers expect that many consumers will soon watch television on their mobile phones, and they are confident plenty of programmes will be available to cater to the handheld screens.

The citizens of Cannes, on the French Cote d'Azur, may have been under the impression last week that television on a mobile phone is already a reality, because the city was covered in posters from handset vendors advertising the service on new models during the 3GSM mobile communications trade show.

While TV on mobiles is being tried out in nations across the world, it is not yet available to the wider public. But the communications industry has rarely been more united in its embrace of a new technology and the anticipation of success.

"I think TV and video will drive demand more than camera phones in places like Korea, Japan, Europe and the Americas," Alex Mandl, chief executive of French smartcards for mobile phones maker Gemplus, told Reuters at 3GSM.

"Imaging was last year; music is this year; video is next year," said Hugh Brogan, chief executive of British handset maker Sendo.

Some analysts warned the technology is not ready yet.

"The European operators appear to be unclear at this time about how the (mobile TV) service will be priced, and there are still issues with battery life and screen size," Merrill Lynch said in a note about the 3GSM fair in Cannes.


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