Mobile phone users in Japan's major cities are now able to watch TV on their handsets, following the introduction of a digital terrestrial service.
The launch follows several months of test transmissions, and the service will be free of charge for the time being while its potential is assessed. A number of Japanese media companies, including Nippon Television and Fuji Television, have signed deals with mobile operators.
Consumers will be able to receive 'one-seg' broadcasts that currently feature the same content as the nation's home television transmissions.
This similarity is "of little interest" to NTT DoCoMo, Japan's top mobile provider, its CEO, Masao Nakamura, told the BBC. But he added: "We are getting ready by preparing new specific content for the service that could come into use later when new channels are available".
NTT DoCoMo and KDDI Corp are the wireless giants offering the new mobile DTT service, which uses broadcasting airwaves from TV towers—rather than satellites or an internet connection—to relay streaming content that can be picked up via special receivers. Sales of compatible handsets are said to be steady, though quantities are reported to be limited.
Despite not being the first digital mobile TV service, Japan's is expected to reach the largest market, with 90m cell phone owners already downloading video games, playing music, sending emails and surfing the net on their handsets.
Lovelace Consulting | 04.04.2006