Globe shelves mobile TV plan

By Lenie Lectura, Business Mirror

Posted at Feb 08 2010 11:04 PM | Updated as of Feb 09 2010 07:05 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Globe Telecom’s plan to offer mobile television (TV) service is taking a backseat. This, as the company waits for the availability of cheaper and a wider range of handsets that are capable of receiving digital TV signal.

Globe chief finance officer Delfin Gonzalez said the cellular firm’s planned mobile TV service offering is dependent on the availability of the mobile TV-capable handsets and platform that will be adopted by the industry.

“There’s no offering yet of mobile TV [for Globe] because the handset manufacturers are forecasting models that will come up are not able to do that,” said Gonzalez in an interview.

He added that “we don’t know yet when we will start offering [mobile tv]. It largely depends on the handset manufacturers if they will come out with models at cheap prices.”

There are a few mobile TV handsets that are out in the market today and the units don’t come cheap. On the average, the handset costs between P5,000 and P10,000 each.

Another factor being considered by Globe regarding its mobile TV service launch is the lack of policy from the regulators as to which mobile TV technology should be adopted.

Globe’s current mobile TV offering runs on its 3G (third-generation) network. 3G video streaming, however, is choppy and the quality is not very good. The cellular firm is not actively branding it as a “mobile TV” service but as part of the operator’s 3G video streaming services.

Rival Smart Communications Inc. has been offering mobile TV since 2006, but on a test-broadcast service.

Smart’s myTV runs on a network independent of the existing cellular infrastructure. It is not transmitted through the cellular network via video streaming and video-downloads services which are currently offered through 3G cellular networks.

Instead, the service is being broadcast using the mobile TV platform called Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld (DVB-H) which allows mobile devices with a similar antenna to receive digital TV signals, just like in free TV. However, DVB-H has better video quality than analog and can be controlled from the user side.

The service is being offered by MediaQuest Holdings subsidiary MediaScape Inc. in cooperation with Smart. It can be viewed initially on Nokia N92 and N77 mobile phones which are capable of receiving high-frequency radio signals like that of DVB-H.

Globe’s retirement fund Bethlehem Holdings Inc. has acquired Broadcast Enterprises & Affiliated Media Inc., a broadcast firm which has a digital head-end ideal for providing digital content for MMDS and Direct Broadcast Satellite Service in order for the cellular firm to offer mobile TV service.

Mobile TV is a broadcast service that delivers content to many viewers simultaneously through the digital TV broadcast signal for mobile devices—similar to how a conventional TV service delivers TV signal to homes.