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January 17, 2007

Virgin's mobile TV struggling

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 1:25 PM

The launch of a mobile TV service by Virgin Mobile in the U.K. three months ago is not doing well despite a £2.5 million advertising campaign, according to an article in The Guardian.

The service is the first time mobile television was launched in the U.K. using a broadcast delivery method. Other U.K. carriers provide mobile TV by streaming it to the phone. Sprint Nextel and Cingular Wireless have streaming services in the U.S., while Verizon Wireless just launched a broadcast TV service using Qualcomm mediaFLO technology.

Streaming video takes up a lot of the network capacity, whereas broadcast methods use different airwaves, freeing up valuable space.

And, because other U.S. carriers are planning to follow Verizon's broadcast launch, perhaps the Guardian story will be a useful guide as to how things are going so far.

The Guardian reported that Virgin Mobile has sold far fewer than 10,000 Lobster handsets, the operator's only commercial device compatible with the mobile TV service. As you may recall, the Lobster, aka "Trinity," is an HTC phone loaded with the Windows Mobile operating system. The phone was unveiled at 3GSM during Steve Ballmer's keynote in Barcelona last year.

According to The Guardian, the reasons why the service hasn't taken off are threefold. First, phones are style driven, so providing just one that has the service is a major flaw; the TV programming is limited compared with the competition that offers streaming TV; and finally, the service does not work well, if at all, while riding the London Underground, which would be a good time to watch TV.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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Angel Gonzalez
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