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TV On Cellphones Ever Closer 217

Yurian writes "Seems that the new breed of cell-phones are being readied to receive digital TV. The standard has been finalized and handsets are in test. The emergence of DVB-H explains a puzzling purchase made last year by Crown Castle of Houston, Texas. The company, which runs the BBC's transmitter network in the UK, paid $12 million for a 5-megahertz slice of coast-to-coast radio spectrum in the US. At the time no one knew why. But Crown Castle transmitters near Pittsburgh are already broadcasting DVB-H to prototype Nokia mobile TV phones. That purchase may turn out to be an amazing bargain, considering other operators paid billions for 3G licenses which were originally meant to deliver video services."
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TV On Cellphones Ever Closer

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  • Location (Score:3, Interesting)

    by b0lt ( 729408 ) on Sunday December 12, 2004 @07:02PM (#11068600)
    Near Pittsburgh? I live in Pittsburgh. Is there a way I could obtain a cell phone that could tap into the digital TV service?

    • Re:Location (Score:4, Informative)

      by josh3736 ( 745265 ) on Sunday December 12, 2004 @07:13PM (#11068680) Homepage
      Better yet: how "open" is this system?

      Will I be able to buy/build a device to receive this signal and decode it? Will I have to pay any monthly fees for this?

      It would be great to use my laptop to receive this service. Much bigger screen, better speakers.

      • Don't forget that this service will be optimized for cell phone screens. Most phones of today feature 128x128 screens, some up to 240x160, even Pocket PCs (the largest existing device that can be reasonably labeled a "cell phone" are 320x240. The average laptop screen is 1024x768, meaning the quality of a 240x160 signal on a 1024x768 screen will be worthless for anything but news. I can't imagine someone enjoying TV with such shoddy quality. At about 25 pixels for each 1 of the source (5x5) you'll have the

      • I'm a huge advocate for Open Source, etc. as I imagine you are. But you're setting unrealistic expectations here. Every product can't be "open". These guys put up capital to buy a range of the broadcast spectrum. They're going to need to recoup their investment and then some. So, yes. They're going to charge fees.

        If you're looking for a 'free' laptop TV solution, here you go. USB TV tuner with linux drivers. [sourceforge.net] It'll pull in whatever normal broadcast tv you can receive.
    • Re:Location (Score:3, Informative)

      NO, you can't buy those phones here in Pittsburgh yet. Only CDMA and analog cell phones!

      Seriously, hooray for Pittsburgh (I live here too), but there's almost no reason for it -- people here are so happy with dialup, if they even bother with the Internet anyway.
      • Well, I think virgin pulse was doing something here (read about it in the Post-Gazette), but it was about a month ago.

    • UK users.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      Will UK users have to pay TV licensing fees for these TV phones?
      • If you have a TV licence for home then almost certainly, as the device in question is mobile and capable of running on its own power, just like mobile TVs.

        If you have no TV licence for home then the answer is maybe. It depends on several factors, including how these devices are classified, whether you actually watch live TV on them or not, etc. I think it's unlikely though.

        Right now you have video mobile phones in the UK on which you can receive sports highlights, etc and you don't a TV licence for those,
        • That firt sentence should have read "If you have a TV licence for home then almost certainly not, as the device in question is mobile and capable of running on its own power, just like mobile TVs."

          I was a bit over-zealous with my editing down of what I'd originally typed. Mea culpa.
  • Who needs this? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by eille-la ( 600064 )
    Who really needs to watch TV on a cellphone?
    • watching tv is far more better than playing that damn snake game over and over :-)
    • I could not agree more, the idea sounds totally stupid. I sure hope they do not make any such thing with loud speakers "so people can share". The noice from phones and people using them in public places is bad enough already.
    • All those people who use the cellphone while driving to work, of course. Be afraid.
    • Re:Who needs this? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Narphorium ( 667794 )
      This could be another great way to stream localised data to cellphones via low power transmitters.
      For example, you could have a subway scheduals when your in the subway, movie trailers when your waiting in line at the theatre etc.
    • I'll make phone calls on my TV before I watch TV on my cell phone.
    • This sounds dangerous. It's already illegal in many states to have a monitor showing "pre-recorded material" in a vehicle while it is in motion. (The pre-recoded clause allows the use of navigation systems.) As if people aren't already trying to do enough in their cars on the morning drive to work. We'll have the guy trying to shave, gulp down his coffee, catch the morning news on the brilliant 2" screen... and then the phone rings. Or what about the soccer mom driving the 3 ton SUV putting on her make u
    • "Who really needs to watch TV on a cellphone?"

      Who really needs to post comments on Slashdot? We could be out reading books to sick children!!!
  • by fembots ( 753724 ) on Sunday December 12, 2004 @07:04PM (#11068612) Homepage
    ...battery life and practical viewable area on a phone.

    And how about the "roamability" when you're in another country using other standards?

    While it's good to have all-in-one gadgets, there are things that just can't be integrated. I think a make-up mirror is good on a phone so that you can talk while looking/grooming yourself, or maybe a ear-cleaner that cleans your ear while you're on the phone?
    • I wonder what the roaming charges would be for watching your local shows while away in Europe? :)
    • While it's good to have all-in-one gadgets, there are things that just can't be integrated.

      I have been using my Nokia 3650 as a portable video player for a while now, and I love it. The problem is, I can only fit a certain amount of pre-recorded video on the memory card. It would be great to get real-time news or other entertainment while sitting on the bus or the train.

      The great thing about multi-function cell phones is that their purchase price is subsidized by the carrier. I understand that I'm pay

    • ...battery life and practical viewable area on a phone.

      Well, the obvious question to me is what [3g.co.uk] is [pcworld.com] new [msnbc.com] about [dottocomu.com] this? [i4u.com]

      Is it just because we're talking United States here? If you read through this thread, people are acting as if watching TV on a phone is some kind of new idea. (Your post being one example.) I mean the size of the screen and the battery life are not open questions, because TV-enabled phones have been on the market for over a year (if not more) around the world.

      Am I missing something?
  • This could have potential. Remember that story a while back about having a remote control to shut of televisions in public? I can't count how many times I've wanted to shut off a cellphone in public.

    (Usually my wife's.)

  • How are they going to tell television on such a tiny screen no matter how good they manage to make the picture? Going from cinema picture to a tiny normal TV is bad enough, looking at a stamp size picture doesn't sound very nice no matter how great they make the picture.
  • What's the point? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why is this necessary when some networks and/or aggregators are already allowing content providers to send content via the 3G cellular network? Isn't this a better path anyway, being circuit switched and having a return path for video, audio and interactive feedback?

    A quick search on Google for "video short codes" brings up:

    3 [3g.co.uk]
    MX TELECOM [wapmx.com]
  • by IO ERROR ( 128968 ) <error@noSPAm.ioerror.us> on Sunday December 12, 2004 @07:09PM (#11068645) Homepage Journal
    Is anyone else imagining people watching Seinfeld reruns and the Simpsons during their evening commute home?...and not paying attention to driving?
    • No. People could be doing this now with in-dash video systems, portable DVD players, portable TVs, etc. But it's not happening, at least not in any quantity.

      • I didn't think most places allowed in-dash video systems.
        • In many jurisdictions, they're supposed to be wired so that they can't be used while the ignition is on (only when the key is in the "Accessory" position). But they are legal.

          However, someone that's installing it themselves could wire it up any way they want; although it's illegal, who's going to check?

          • A few months ago, they caught a guy in Toronto cruising a neighbourhood, driving the wrong way on a one-way, stealing WiFi, to watch pr0n movies on his laptop, on the dash, with his pants down.

            Some people have an unstoppable Will To Stupid.

            • Yes. For comparison, though, I occasionally see people reading a book on their steering wheel while they're driving. It doesn't take technology for someone to do something stupid. They'll find a way.

              • That doesn't mean we need more technology to make already irresponsble drivers even more so. Speaking on cell phones is dangerous enough while driving. Do we really need them watching TV at the same time? If you insist that they won't watch it when driving, when will they? At home? No. They will most likely do it while driving.

                • i understand your concern, but i ride the bus for an hour every day. i usually read, and probably would continue to do so, but i might not mind having the option of watching something every now and then... there are lots of perfectly legitimate things that would be really stupid to do while driving. i see lots of people reading while driving. should we ban books?
    • By that logic, printing books is a bad idea too. There's nothing to stop people from reading them while driving, is there?. Better safe than sorry.
    • "Is anyone else imagining people watching Seinfeld reruns and the Simpsons during their evening commute home?...and not paying attention to driving?"

      Yes, but I'm low on karma as well. ;)
  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Odocoileus ( 802272 ) on Sunday December 12, 2004 @07:12PM (#11068674)
    I think this is really good, now we never again need to encounter one of those akward moments wherein we must occupy time with our own thoughts.
    • I think this is really good, now we never again need to encounter one of those akward moments wherein we must occupy time with our own thoughts.


      I don't know about anyone else, but my very existance is validated by regular {Take Metamucil!} dosages {Viagra Tonight!} of the essential {This is your brain on Drugs!} messages {The BMW 760Li: Making you more of a man then men themselves!} that make life {DeBeers: What every whore wants for Xmas!} worthwhile.

      I can truly say that my superiority {The Sim

    • Re:Great (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ajna ( 151852 )
      The parent poster was being facetious, but according to a presentation on sleep disorders that I saw recently for this class [washington.edu] (sorry, no slides posted for the sleep lecture) insomnia is prevalent among professionals* because they are too good at occupying time with their own thoughts. From a system of schooling, and from the high pressure careers that result we become very adept at multitasking, and the brain itself becomes fond of churning out a continuous stream of thoughts. You may have noticed this yours
    • "I think this is really good, now we never again need to encounter one of those akward moments wherein we must occupy time with our own thoughts."

      Why is it that cell phone users never get any credit, even though at least half of us have one?
      One guy in a theater with 400 people in it forgets to turn his phone off and it rings. Damn those annoying cell phones that every single person has and abuses!

      Watch out! Here comes television! Now we can attack the priorities of these people! Well now they'll never
      • Why is it that cell phone users always get so defensive? I own one, but I am still annoyed by the guy who not only refuses to turn off his cell phone in the theater (sorry, but you're reminded often enough not to forget) but then starts a loud conversation about nothing in particular, or the girl that just must talk VERY LOUDLY on her cellphone at 2:30 at night in the middle of the week, right under my bedroom window.

        I am not high and mighty, it's they who are less than scum.

        phew. went off on a rant there
        • " I own one, but I am still annoyed by the guy who not only refuses to turn off his cell phone in the theater"..." it's they who are less than scum."

          See how ya just went from I to they there? That's why some get defensive. I'm not guilty.
  • Batt life (Score:2, Interesting)

    So I watch the news on my phone, and the battery gets drained faster then me after 10 beers. Great going. For me phones need to do 2 things: 1. Being able to make a phone call 2. Being able to send a short message. THe rest is voodoo mumbo jumbo. Who concurs?
    • Uh, you don't have to watch the news. Just like I don't use or want the text messaging feature my phone has.


    • My phone barely makes calls and barely sends a text message and I would still rather have it than a TV Phone. With the availability of broadband internet connections expanding my TV has gone the way of my VCR and AppleIIe, sitting in the corner - nostalgia items. I would rather get my news from 100 different websites than 4 different news channels. I have a TV (and tuner card) in my bedroom that never get used and a 57in in the living room that I only use to watch DVDs and OSU football games. If there i
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Previous posts got it right: TV on phones is a stupid idea in the U.S., where so many people commute by car. They've got this in Japan already - not sure how uptake is going, but it makes a hell of a lot more sense if you're riding a train for two hours a day than if you drive to and from work.

    I guess that the market wouldn't be for whole TV shows, but for short clips like sports highlights and maybe music videos. Still, who needs it? We already have pocket-sized portable TVs, and how often do you see some
    • Let's not forget the obvious. If you want something to occupy your mind on a train ... read a book.
  • And how do you watch the screen with the phone pressed to your ear?

    Some products were not made to be combined. A cell phone iPod combination makes sense, a cell phone TV doesn't. HDTV on your cellphone screen is even sillier. You want a screen at least 5cm square, 10cm for HD.

  • As if hearing the ahole next to me blabbering away at the top of his voice wasn't bad enough, now I get to listen to Jerry Springer do it too.
  • If they already have Wristwatch Televisions [thinkgeek.com], putting a TV on cell phone shouldn't be that hard.
  • seen it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nstrupp ( 51933 )
    I've seen a prototype 3G phone playing a live TV stream. I agree with a lot of others - what's the point? I've heard that FOX is already developing short clips targeted at mobile phones. This sounds just like another annoying thing people will do with their phones in public places without using headphones.

    Perhaps someday I'll understand why the mobile phone has become a target for all entertainment. I never thought ringtones could become a multi-billion dollar business, but it is. Maybe TV-on-mobile will b
    • Here in Australia, Optus Zoo [optuszoo.com.au] have been streaming the ABC (that's the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and CNN live for quite some time now. It's been available ever since I got my Nokia 6600 phone, and that was back in March or so.

      It's not exactly something I do a lot of, but it is cool to show people. The quality is roughly equivalent to RealMedia files circa 1997. Damn Optus and it's slow GPRS network :(
  • by StaticFish ( 839708 ) on Sunday December 12, 2004 @07:33PM (#11068823) Homepage
    When I see the fist wave of 6G phones that have a shaver and toothbrush attatchment - then i'll be impressed
  • I am actually psyched about TV on my Nokia. Unfortunately, how can I get my content distributed for cell phone use? Since I live in pittsburgh, I'll make the call tomorrow. Why don't we have video conferecing using our camera phones yet?

    Really, a reliable cell phone is key, but if manufacturers are going to include bells and whistles, it makes sense to engineer them properly -- Nokia's 3650 rotary-dial keypad is a really bad idea, but I'm stuck with it if I want bluetooth, IR, and MMC card slot.
  • I hope they watch their bandwidth. XM satellite radio ran out so they cut back the sound quality on their stations.

    Is this going to be awesome at first, then they get overzealous and compress the crap out of everything?
  • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Sunday December 12, 2004 @07:53PM (#11068915) Homepage
    Despite what a lot of people are saying, I think that TV-on-cellphones CAN be ocassionally useful. Cell phones and PDA's continue to merge, and 3G networks will provide the badnwidth the be able to stream video, and devices like the Motorola A1000 [motorola.com] are the obvious result.

    An example of where TV-on-cellphones would be useful.... on September 11th, is there any doubt that if most people had TV-on-cellphones, that everyone not near a TV would have been glued to their cell phone, watching video clips?

    Anyway, my main question is... why come up with a new standard? It seems like most cell phones will support TCP/IP in the future.... why not simply use any/all of the existing streaming-video standards that are available? (eg. Windows Media, Real, MPEG... most of these already have embedded implementations).

    • I've had Mobi-TV [mobitv.com] television channels on my Sprint cell phone for over a year now. They have about 20 channels. My phone is a little old and slow so I only get about 1-2 video frames second but the audio is not choppy. I watch it all the time to and from work when I do not have driving duty.

      With my unlimited Sprint vision service (their name for mobile internet access), I get the Mobi-TV monthly service bascially for free as Sprint provides a $10 credit for download content which is what Mobi-TV costs pe
  • Just what we need. People driving around watching cellphone TV instead of the road in front of them.
  • by Raindeer ( 104129 ) on Sunday December 12, 2004 @08:11PM (#11068988) Homepage Journal
    I've seen so many posts of people just not getting it. All seem to concur nobody wants tv on their phone. Well, tests in Korea have shown that it was the first application that overloaded that their 3g network. I think many of us are too big a geek to see through the eyes of a 13 to 30 year old woman with a small, dull job and ditto man. The soap watching type. This is also the type that buys stupid ringtones. Well, they are the ones where the real money comes from and they will buy in to this. I promiss you. Either this or 3G soap of the day on demand.
    • I've seen demos of streaming-video-on-demand on a ~200x300 pixel 3G phone, and I have to say it was cooler than I thought it would be. The video looked a lot better than I thought it would on a portable device, and, well, most people can't simply call up any video they want to any time, and it's pretty cool to see somone be able to do that. On the other hand, I don't know that I could stand paying the carriers so much money for each video, even if I did have one of these phones.
  • Sorry to burst your little American bubble, but cell phones that receive TV are old news in Japan.http://www.jiten.com/dicmi/docs/k9/15861.htm is the only link I could easily find that included a bit of English. Some of the dates are last year, but the ones I glanced at seemed to be reviews, so the phones must have been available before that. I can't recall when the phones actually became available.
  • XM satellite radio. I upgraded my car stereo to a system with XM and I'm a complete addict now being stuck in traffic is a hell of a lot more bearable when you can listen to BBC World Service, Sonic Theater or Discover Radio. Of course I'd also like a girlfriend, a pretty pony and a million dolllars (not necessarily in that order, because if I had a million bucks I could buy the pony, find a woman who would be willing to do the pony and who might even be willing to go out with me.)

  • So yeah, TV on a cellphone, great. 5 mins of somethin' before ur battery dies. Wuts the point?

    As long as they design it so you HAVE to plug in an earbud or something to hear the broadcasts sound, I don't really see this being a big deal though.

    w/ current battery life, this could lower annoying cellphone use as a whole. Oops killed my battery watchin' 5 mins of CSI, guess I can't take any calls at the theatre.
  • Nokia 7710 (Score:2, Informative)

    by phobos13013 ( 813040 )
    This thing is going to be on the streets here in the US by early next year, just got released in Asia last week. The usage is geared more towards mobile TV then cellphone use. If there was more functionality as a phone, it might be appealing.
  • This is a typical /. knee-jerk reaction thread, so I'll attempt to point out the other (good) side to this, karma be damned:

    -News clips.
    -Short video clips.

    yes, someone WILL think of a good way to use this service.

    disclaimer: I don't necessarily think this is a great idea.
  • In Australia, Optus [optuszoo.com.au] have been streaming TV to mobiles for a while.

    In Korea, only old people watch TV on their mobiles...

  • Sprint has already been offering something of the kind [sprintpcs.com]

    From this page:
    Sprint TV - This comprehensive basic service presents a variety of content from familiar brands. Think of it as "basic cable" for your phone.
  • I'm sure others have pointed this out but TV cell phones have already been available in Japan and Korea for over a year

    Both the type with a TV tuner in the phone AND the type that stream the TV digitally over the net.

    http://www.au.kddi.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi?entry=/ ez web/au_dakara&content_id=ez_movie

    http://www.au.kddi.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi?entry=/ ez web/au_dakara&content_id=ez_channel

  • I find it incredible that only 3 years ago a Nokia 3310 was considered modern and hip, and now we already have phones with colour screens, TV, webbrowsers, good sound and whatnot. These developments are going really fast. There is one thing I miss though: a handy with an in-built answering machine. Leave it on in silent mode during meetings, and people can leave their messages directly on your machine so that you don't have to call your providers' expensive voice mail.
  • I don't want only digital signal TV. I want analog too, so I can pick up whatever channels are broadcasting at the area I am in. Some people will say that TV on the cellphone is too much, but I think they are wrong: there are lots of times that watching TV is much more interesting than playing the stupid cellphone games...like when waiting in a queue, commuting (of course not driving at the same time) and lots of other moments (*cough bathroom *cough).
  • Its in the Band!
  • It's obvious that this is going to be a huge hit with the masses, so big that in ten years it'll be considered an indispensable feature.

    At that point, what's a parent to do when he wants to get his kid a cellphone, but he doesn't want her hauling around a TV everywhere she goes--including school?

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger