mimobiBSE listed Tata Teleservices Maharashtra Limited (TTML) has launched Mobile TV in Mumbai – i.e. TV channels which can be viewed over TTMLs mobile network. Note that another form of Mobile TV is digital transmission to mobile devices, using technology like DVB-H, DMB etc. 

MiMobiTV is the product of the Hyderabad-based Apalya, which had receivedRs 2 crores in its first round of funding from Mumbai Angels in August 2008, according to VCCircle.  The application is not available as yet, but should be available for download from Tata Zone soon, a spokesperson for TTML told Medianama. The Hindi version of Tata Zone has a description of the service.

Channels

Tata Indicom subscribers will be able to view 25 channels including CNN IBN, Times Now, Aaj Tak, NDTV 24×7, TV9, CNBC, TV18, ETV (Marathi, Bengali, and Gujarati), Jaya TV, Zoom, Pogo and Cartoon Network. Apalya has partnered with 40 TV channels in total. What is interesting though is that MiMobiTV can be personalised – does this mean we can bookmark our favourite TV shows? It also uses a “progressive download” feature similar to Youtube to stream videos over low bandwidth. That said, most of the channels on 2G networks tend to be available at a frame rate of 15-17 frames per second, which is hardly ideal for TV viewing.

Price

The service will be charged at Rs 15 for 5 minutes. We think that this is far too expensive, and will inhibit takeup of the service. BSNL’s offer was far cheaper when it launched in 2007 – offering a per day plan for Rs 10, to watch the same channel for 24 hours; or a monthly plan  for Rs 50 (again, 1 channel only) or an “unlimited” type monthly plan  for Rs 150 for all 12 channels. Perhaps TTML should consider a subscription based plan to spur adoption.

Handsets Compatible

Only four phones will be able to use the service – Motorola V3C (Razr), Samsung Max (F679), Samsung Duo (W339) and Samsung T-Nimbus (F519), in what is a precursor to enabling it across handsets. However, the website suggests that the service is compatible with only the Razr. More channels will also be added soon, Rajesh Puri, President-Operations, Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Limited has said. In comparison, Apalya is ready to offer Mobile TV over BSNL 3G for 52 handsets. Why the difference?

Mobile TV Playground

Mobile TV is set to become as competitive as DTH with operators tying up with more than one developer to offer Mobile TV applications for handsets. Most operators have been testing and piloting Mobile TV for years now. MTNL used NetEdge TeleSolutions to test Mobile TV on Dolphin and Trump in Delhi last year. BSNL had tied up with ROK for TinyTV and with Apalya for W. Bengal, Sikkim, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and North Eastern states in 2007 for mobile TV pilots (via content Sutra).  Idea Cellular also tested Mobile TV just before its IPO in February 2007. Apalya’s clientele includes MTNL, Aircel Tamil Nadu, Idea Cellular and Vodafone.

Apalya has tied up with BSNL to provide Mobile TV in Orissa, where the PSU is launching 3G services soon, as we reported earlier. But the operator has said that it will sign more such arrangements in the future. So will the consumer have to download multiple applications? What happens when the user is on roaming? Will it be the operator’s responsibility to ensure that users can enjoy Mobile TV wherever they go? Interoperability might also be a problem.

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