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February 20, 2006

Fast-forwarding on the phone

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 11:59 AM

LONDON -- One thing I neglected to bring up about 3GSM was the significant progress of certain technologies, especially since CTIA, the U.S. counterpart of 3GSM.

During the event, held in New Orleans in April last year, I had to search the floor thoroughly to find only a couple of HSDPA handsets, which support the next wave of high-speed cellular networks. I distinctly remember them being in the back of the LG booth as somewhat of an afterthought.

This year the handsets were unavoidable and in way-sleeker designs. The technology really seems mainstream this year.

Ditto for broadcast television technology. The idea behind broadcast television is that as more and more cellular users start to watch TV on phones, the signal will clog networks. A new technology has to come in to free up the traffic. Besides, if a lot of users are watching the same show, it doesn't make sense to provide each one with an individual stream, as opposed to broadcasting the programming over a wide area.

In New Orleans, the only broadcast television I noticed was Qualcomm's proprietary MediaFLO system. This year, broadcast TV was everywhere, from the networks to the handsets. All the standards were being displayed, from Qualcomm's mediaFLO to DAB and DVB for Digital Audio and Video Broadcast to DVB-H.

Microsoft even announced that it was launching DAB in partnership with Virgin Mobile, first time broadcast TV would be available in Europe.

The devices were impressive. At the Samsung booth, the screens of the flip phones opened and swiveled to a landscrape screen. The quality was high-definition. Nokia also had demos of its handsets, with a landscape screen playing live footage of the Olympics.

No word on when any of this technology will make it to the U.S., but Virgin is expected to launch its service this summer.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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