BT unveils 3G mobile TV handset

On Wednesday, BT announced a deal with Chinese vendor ZTE which will develop the world’s first 3G mobile handset compatible with BT Movio’s wholesale mobile entertainment service. Further, the dual-mode designs will, according to the pair, be compatible with all mobile TV technologies in the near future.

ZTE, China’s fastest growing mobile solutions provider, claims the handsets – due “sometime” in 2007 – will be the first to support DAB-IP within a 3G device.

Last week, BT introduced Virgin Mobile as the first wholesale customer for its mobile TV network. The first device compatible with the BT Movio DAB IP network will be the GPRS Lobster 700, by Taiwanese manufacturer High Tech Computer (HTC).

But the swift introduction of another device could help BT fend off the criticism over the “rushed” launch of its Movio service. Last week, Daren Siddal, principal analyst at Gartner, said that the launch of the service was of a lower than anticipated quality and felt rushed to market.

Indeed,’s brief testing of the technology at the launch last week, found the Lobster handset itself a little on the clumsy side. It is apparent that Emma Lloyd, managing director of BT Movio, anticipates that the introduction of another DAB compatible device and one that is 3G capable will be key in attracting other wholesale customers.

“With the introduction of the first 3G mobile device capable of supporting DAB-IP, we will be in a strong position to extend the BT Movio wholesale proposition to 3G mobile operators in the UK,” Lloyd said.

However, neither BT nor ZTE could guarantee that the forthcoming devices would be anymore sophisticated than the Lobster, barring the dual-mode capability. Asked if the new designs would use a more advanced method to pick up the broadcast signal than the Lobster – which relies on its earphones to pick up signals – Dominic Strowbridge, marketing director at BT Movio insisted that DAB “requires a large and flexible antenna”.

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