December 14, 2007 / 12:11 PM / in 10 years

High frequency mobile TV trial starts in Italy

HELSINKI, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Alcatel-Lucent ALUA.PA said on Friday it had agreed to launch the world’s first trial of a new mobile television broadcasting technology in Italy with RAI and 3 Italia, using higher frequencies than so far for mobile TV.

The European telecoms industry is struggling to find airwaves to cash in on consumers’ growing appetite for watching short TV shows on their cellphones, but to make up for a shortage of spectrum it has started to look at higher, costlier frequencies.

Radio signals travel shorter distances at higher frequencies, which means operators have to build a denser network.

Mobile operators hope that additional income from mobile TV services, which may generate another 5 to 10 euros in revenues a month from each user, will compensate for declining revenues from voice calls.

Half a dozen different technologies are competing for the business, with DVB-H so far the only one used globally. China, South Korea and the United States are pushing for local standards.

The new DVB-SH technology, promoted by Alcatel-Lucent, uses spectrum just above the current 3G networks, enabling joint usage of network technologies. It also incorporates satellite coverage for sparsely populated areas.

The French-U.S. telecom equipment maker said it would run a technical trial of the new technology in Turin over the coming months and would incorporate consumers to the trial later.

The problem for DVB-SH has been lack of interest from the largest cellphone vendors, who hope to use the rival DVB-H standard, which uses much lower frequencies, the same as traditional television’s UHF band.

Alcatel-Lucent’s spokeswoman said the cellphone provider for the trial has not been picked yet, but the most interested vendors in the new technology were Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and Sagem, part of French conglomerate Safran (SAF.PA).

A spokeswoman for Nokia said it was monitoring closely all the technologies but favours DVB-H, which it sees as the global standard for mobile TV. (Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Paul Bolding)

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