O2 spells out multimedia mobile plans

Mobile phone company O2 last week fleshed out its timetable to make the mobile phone a broader communications hub, embracing...

Mobile phone company O2 last week fleshed out its timetable to make the mobile phone a broader communications hub, embracing mobile TV, peer-to-peer multimedia and high-speed 3G.

Speaking at the annual Regent Conference for heads of IT supply companies, Mike Short, O2’s vice-president of R&D, said that mobile broadcast TV trials for handheld devices would start this May in Oxford. O2 will work with NTL Broadcast, Nokia and other content providers on developing 16 TV channels.

He also said that the Isle of Man high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) commercial network, which delivers better than 1Mbps, would go live in the second half of this year, with wider deployment planned for 2006.

In the middle of this year, O2 will also be trialling peer-to-peer multimedia, fusing elements of the IP and mobile worlds, and moving to live commercial services by the end of the year.

For IP and mobile convergence, Short promised more filters and barriers to allay concerns over unsuitable content, and to introduce itemised billing.

Speaking at the concurrent Communications Management Association conference of telecom users, mobile specialist Miles Saltiel of the Adam Smith Institute expressed deep concern about opaque mobile pricing.

"Even I have difficulty making intelligent decisions over prices," he said, adding that a comparison of roaming costs at the Athens Olympic Games revealed that the highest price was three times that of the lowest.

"Ofcom should enforce a transparent pricing regime," he said, "and ensure that mobile companies advertise their tariffs according to a standard template, such as APR for finance, or standard mileages for cars. Ofcom should also take a lead and enforce low-cost roaming - the default selection should be the network of the least cost."

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