China unveils schedule for mobile TV trial

China's government has announced that the country will begin trials for mobile television by the middle of next year, in time for the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) has revealed that the pilot scheme will be carried out using Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) technology, which is already employed in South Korea. In the UK, telco giant BT will soon use DMB for Movio, its forthcoming broadcast digital television and radio service for mobiles.

China's two largest telecoms providers, China Unicom and China Mobile, are by the end of this month expected to finalise agreements with handsets manufacturers to buy TV-enabled mobiles embedded with new microchip technology.

Users in Beijing will be the first to test the new service during the second half of 2007, and a satellite broadcast system for mobile transmissions will be activated in time for the Olympics the following year, said SARFT.

Large-screen personal digital assistants and MP4 players will also receive the mobile TV trial signal.

China has 426m users of mobile phones, around 34m of whom are expected to sign up for mobile TV services within the next five years. The mobile phone market in China is expected to next year reach $756m.

The announcement of the mobile pilot scheme follows news earlier this week that SARFT is close to announcing a standard for digital terrestrial television that is said to be completely home-developed and will not lead to any patent payments having to be paid to any other country.