Mobile big boys in mobile telly pact

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Written by Jo Best, Contributor

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Three of the UK's biggest operators have signed up to a controversial mobile trial.

3, Orange and Vodafone will be testing TDtv, one of the numerous broadcast mobile telly standards, alongside Spanish operator Telefonica, which owns O2.

Around 100 punters will get to try out broadcast telly on their phones in the Bristol area, with the pilot scheduled to last until the end of the year.

TDtv is a standard which uses spare spectrum that UK operators have had since they acquired their 3G licences some years ago. Most of the UK's operators have the necessary spectrum and infrastructure to use the technology, sold by IPWireless, unlike some other standards such as DVB-H, which needs its own broadcast kit.

The initiative is thought to be driven largely by Orange. Back in February, CEO Sanjiv Ahuja announced at the mobile industry's annual shindig, 3GSM, that it would be giving the TDtv standard a run out.

Despite the involvement of its Spanish parent, O2 is not taking part in the trial. The operator is already heavily involved in trialling the Nokia-championed DVB-H standard for broadcast mobile telly.

A spokesman for O2 told silicon.com: "We're indirectly involved. Rather than duplicate effort, we'll tie up and get learning from them. We're still very committed to DVB-H and we think that's the best standard for broadcast."

T-Mobile will be the only large UK operator to not be involved in the trial and has been tight-lipped on its broadcast plans. In other European territories, the German-owned operator has been experimenting with DVB-H and used it to broadcast live football during this year's World Cup.

According to analyst house Gartner, one in three phones will support broadcast mobile TV by 2012.

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