South Korea launches worlds first broadcast
to mobile phone service
By Ahn Mi-Young, dpa
(dpa) - South Koreans have began to see digital TV content
on their mobile phones, with the worlds first commercial launch
digital broadcast on hand-held phones Sunday.
TU Media Corp., a unit of the countrys
largest mobile carrier SK Telecom, launched the satellite-based digital multimedia broadcasting (S-DMB) service that initially makes seven TV channels and 12 audio channels available for mobile handsets.
Some of the early subscribers, who snapped up digital camera phones and MP3 phones, may opt to buy a "hybrid DMB-cellphone" by Samsung Electronics (SCH-B100) or SK Teletech IMB-1000).
The hybrid mobile phone is used as an S-DMB phone
and sells for some 850,000 won (850 U.S. dollars). There are already 23,000 users
of these hybrid mobile phones who participated in a pilot S-DMB
run that began in January, according to Hur Jae-Young, spokesman
for TU Media.
The new service is expected to ignite a new rush
in the countrys
saturated mobile phone market that peaked at 37 million subscribers.
S-DMB is set to be promoted by SK Telecom as
the next "killer
application." Other smaller carriers such as KTF and LG Telecom
in negotiations with TU Media to sign a re-sellership contract to
sell the hybrid phones that can receive satellite signals.
TU Media is aiming for 600,000 S-DMB phone users
by the end of the
year, but squares up against the countrys terrestrial TV
broadcasters - KBS, MBC and SBS - who are licensed to launch
terrestrial-DMB (T-DMB) in June.
S-DMB is nationwide and charges a monthly flat
rate of 13 U.S.-dollars for 39 channels later, while T-DMB is free of charge
with its service for Seoul and the metropolitan areas.
It has been said that the winner will be the
one who can provide
better programming and offer DMB devices that are affordable as
However, TU Media CEO Seo Young-kil said in a
that it will not offer subsidies for customers to buy S-DMB phones.
TU Media must entice terrestrial TV broadcasters
to deliver TV
content into S-DMB phones, but faces a stiff opposition from the
unionists of broadcasters who try to block their digital TV content
Observers say that TV broadcasters do not want
a newcomer like TU
Media that they fear could grow and eventually erode their market
TV broadcasters take a lions share of the
advertising market, so
they have little reason to cheer about a newcomer like TU Media,"
said Kim Sung-Hoon, an analyst at Daewoo Securities.
South Korea has lobbied to have the T-DMB standard
Europe instead of DVB-H that has been championed by Nokia.
S-DMB and T-DMB will be the most advanced networks
for the next
few years, according to London-based Informa Telecoms & Media.
will be a total of 124.8 million broadcast mobile TV users worldwide
by 2010, the firm expects.