O2, the British operator will begin trials of mobile video this month, with their current base of 2.5G (GPRS) subscribers. This is an attempt to deliver more mobile services with current infrastructure, despite billions spent on 3G networks - not yet operational.
The trial will offer news clips from satellite broadcaster Sky, sport, weather and entertainment. O2's Mobile Video trial aims to encourage experimentation with its range of services and will give trialists the unique opportunity to download or stream video content free of charge during the six week period. This trial will use some of the most advanced UK mobile phone technology through the latest mobile phones - the Nokia 7650, Nokia 3650 and the O2 xda.
The trial will also offer the opportunity to browse, select and download video clips via a special trial WAP portal. The content providers will include Sky delivering regularly updated news, sport, weather and entertainment. Once selected, the clip will be 'streamed' or downloaded on to the customers mobile via the O2 mobile data network.
O2 is also leveraging its sponsorship of Arsenal football club and the England Rugby team. Arsenal fans will be able to get exclusive Arsene Wenger interviews and post match highlights whilst rugby followers will have access to footage of England rugby internationals.
Last month, O2 announced a trial the world's first 'music over mobile' service using existing mobile data (GPRS or 2.5G) technology. The O2 music service will enable customers to select, retrieve and store the latest chart hits via their GPRS-enabled mobile handset onto a specially designed 'digital music player' - and start listening in around 12 seconds. Starting in May 2003 in the UK and Germany, the music trials are expected to lead to the launch of a commercial service later this year. O2 is partnered by global brand MTV and the largest music providers in the world, including BMG, who will provide track listings for new chart releases as well as pre-releases.
This will follow Vodafone mobile video experience in Portugal, where the GPRS network was used to delivery the live Brazil x Portugal soccer match. Vodafone UK also announced a move to implement mobile video in that country
Obviously operators are keen to offer more advanced services without full deployment of 3G, because of the flat sales of mobiles this year so far, and because of the costs of integration and content for 3G networks.