Friday, March 23, 2007
There have been a number of solutions to these problems proposed recently. Video for mobile phones can be delivered over existing wireless networks and there have also been parallel wireless networks built along side the existing ones for the express purpose of streaming video. More recently Samsung electronics has begun trials of technology that would allow mobile phones and other portable video devices to receive over the air digital television signals from local TV stations. The technology itself is enabled by a specific chip set that can be built into the mobile phones as well portable video devices (think devices like the video iPod) and laptop computers. Basically anything that's portable and is capable of playing video.
This technology has several advantages. For one thing, it doesn't take up existing bandwidth on wireless networks that can be used for other things like voice transmission (you know, what phones were originally designed for), text messaging, Internet browsing, email, and similar features. The second advantage is that consumers would presumably pay the extra cost of the chip set in order to have the option of watching live TV on their portable devices, and the increased audience would provide increased advertising revenues for local TV stations.
Unfortunately this technology has several disadvantages as well. For one thing, local TV stations would have to broadcast a separate signal just for these portable devices. While this does create an opportunity for he local TV stations to customize programming and advertising for a mobile audience it will be an extra expense even if the programming remains the same as the normal broadcast, and the second transmission will take up more bandwidth. Another obstacle is one that this technology shares with other types of technology that promise to bring video to mobile phones: there still isn't very much interest in watching video on mobile phones among consumers in the United States. That last problem could be the one that's most insurmountable to these providers. Most people, if they watch TV on their phones at all, are likely to view it as novelty that they do once in a while and therefore probably won't be willing to pay extra for the opportunity to do it. This lack luster interest in mobile TV will also make it difficult for Samsung to motivate TV stations to provide the extra signal necessary for this specific technology to work.