Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Smart, 360media launch RP's 1st commercial mobile TV service

By Erwin Oliva

TAGUIG CITY, Philippines -- The first commercial mobile TV service in the Philippines was launched Tuesday.

Mobile network Smart Communications and broadcast firm 360media Corp., a subsidiary of MediaQuest Holdings, are behind this new service. Using the digital video broadcasting-handheld (DVB-H)standard, subscribers with mobile TV-capable handsets can start viewing several channels covering news, music, sports and documentaries for a monthly fee of P488.

DVB-H is a technical standard for broadcasting video content to handheld devices, which is backed by the European Union. It is just one of many standards now available for the handheld.

Smart said the service is available to both paid and pre-paid subscribers.

The service, dubbed myTV, will be availabe in "Mega Manila," Cebu, Davao, Tagaytay, Batangas and Baguio City. It will be rolled out to Cagayan de Oro and Boracay soon.

The mobile TV service will be free to subscribers until August 31.

"This is literally unchaining television and letting it go. TV will be literally in the palm of your hand," said Napoleon Nazareno, Smart president and chief executive officer.

Nazareno said that myTV will be different from its streaming video service on its 3G network, adding that this service is more like "TV on the fly."

Orlando Vea, president and chief executive officer of 360media Corp., stressed that both companies are bringing in another disruptive technology in the country that will "revolutionize" TV viewing in the country.

Vea said that 360Media alone will be investing $50 million in three years.

Nazareno added that Smart has also invested in myTV, but he did not disclose the amount put in for the service.

Vea said studies show that people view TV four hours a day on the average. He believes that mobile TV will change the viewing habits of consumers.

Consumer studies and service trials were conducted early this year. Smart said that there was "strong acceptance for mobile TV," the company said.

Raymund Miranda, 360Media managing director, said that its own local studies showed people viewing mobile TV as long as they view regular TV, implying that mobile TV could supplant demand for cable television especially in areas not reached by local providers.

Vea however stressed that mobile TV won't replace television but will "expand" the market for television.

Danilo Mojica, head of Smart's Wireless Consumer Division, said that consumer studies indicated that people are willing to view television on their handheld devices while waiting or when idle.

Asked if myTV would soon offer "snack TV," or bite size content instead of full programs, Miranda said the first phase of the service will roll out a "base content" but more premium services will be available.

"We will start with 10 channels but we're quickly moving into that direction," added Mojica.

Miranda said 360media will co-produce or produce its content for myTV.

Among the TV channels that will be made available are CNN, MTV Philippines, Cartoon Network, National Geographic, Pinoy Box Office, the History Channel, Solar Sports, Basketball TV, ETC, Jack TV, and soon, PBA games.

Smart said myTV is not transmitted through a cellular network via video streaming nor is it a video download service now available on 3G cellular networks.

360media is formerly known as GV Broadcasting System Inc.

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PLDT launches mobile TV service; eyeing local networks for more content

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), the nation's largest phone firm, launched on Thursday a mobile TV service, which will bring television content to 3G-enabled mobile phones.

For just P488 a month, Smart subscribers with mobile TV-capable handsets can subscribe to "myTV" and view 10 channels including CNN, MTV Philippines, Cartoon Network, National Geographic Channel, Pinoy Box Office, History Channel, Solar Sports, Basketball TV, ETC and Jack TV.

Local content providers, such as ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. and GMA Network Inc., are also being eyed by PLDT to provide content to myTV service.

The monthly package, which is available to both post-paid and pre-paid Smart subscribers, will be an additional charge on top of the regular postpaid airtime plans. Prep-paid subscribers need only maintain P1 airtime load on top of the P488-monthly fee to avail of the service.

This service can be viewed using the Nokia N92 and Nokia N77.

Initially, myTV can be viewed in Mega Manila, Cebu, Davao, Tagaytay, Batangas, and Baguio City. Boracay and Cagayan de Oro will soon be covered.

PLDT's wholly-owned unit MediaQuest said it poured in $30 million to jstart the mobile TV service.

The company, which focuses on media related investment opportunities, is earmarking $50 million for the next three years to fund the operation of its mobile TV.

myTV is being offered by 360media in cooperation with Smart Communications, which will handle the billing, sale and distribution of mobile TV-capable handsets.

PLDT president Napoleon Nazareno said revenues from the service will be shared between MediaQuest and Smart.

Danilo Mojica, head for Smart’s wireless consumer division, said the PLDT group hopes to attract 60,000 to 70,000 subscribers in the next few months.

"Mobile TV is a natural for a market like the Philippines. Studies show we average nearly four hours a day watching TV. myTV will allow us even more viewing time and will forever change prime time TV," said Mediaquest president Orlando Vea.

Mojica said the PLDT group may create its own programming content soon. "We are ramping up the service within the next few weeks. This is just phase 1 of the commercial launch," said Mojica.

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