CeBIT confab addresses future of mobile tech

BERLIN — The CeBIT, the world’s largest computer and telecommunications fair, kicked off in Hanover March 9 with mobile content taking front and center.

Mobile operators and TV broadcasters used the occasion to consummate their blossoming new relationships.

Convergence was the main theme at last month’s 3GSM mobile phone conference in Barcelona and will also be the hot topic at this year’s Mip TV/Milia media confab in Cannes. It’s been long talked about, but not until now has convergence finally reached critical mass around the globe.

Consumers can now enjoy faster, more efficient networks, new 3G mobile phones that switch from the mobile network to broadband Internet seamlessly, larger, sharper screens, higher memory capacity and vastly improved battery life.

In Europe, summer’s World Cup soccer championship in Germany, broadcast in high definition and on mobile TV, will play a key role in the next wave of telecommunications. For the first time, fans will be able to watch live matches on personal devices, anywhere.

Last week, German paybox Premiere and MTV Networks Intl. became the latest players to announce major mobile content deals with Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile division. German webs ProSieben and Sat.1 as well as news network N-TV and sports web DSF already have mobile offerings via T-Mobile.

Premiere will bolster its World Cup soccer coverage through a new agreement with T-Mobile, which is offering 20 top matches live on UMTS mobile phones.

Premiere is setting up a mobile phone channel and will produce game wraps, analysis and interviews for all 64 tourney games in 15-minute streaming format for mobile phone users.

MTV Networks Intl., meanwhile, inked a deal with T-Mobile to offer four channels in Germany, Austria and the U.K. — MTV Shorts, MTV Music (known respectively as Snax and Trax in the U.K.), Nickelodeon and Paramount Comedy.

Eager to tap into a market dominated by young customers, MTV is at the forefront among major entertainment companies in leading the charge into the mobile market. Content on the channels includes Nickelodeon toons “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Dora the Explorer,” musicvideos and hit shows optimized for mobile, such as “Punk’d” and “Dirty Sanchez,” along with made-for-mobile programming like “Head & Body” — an eight-mobisode comedy adventure.

“This multimarket multibrand strategic partnership gives T-Mobile subscribers access to the most diverse portfolio of entertainment brands available today on mobile TV,” says MTVNI senior veep of digital media Gideon Bierer.

He adds that MTV Networks content can help boost mobile TV businesses “by providing consumers with access to our world class brands on-the-go.”

T-Mobile customers in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia can already access mobile TV on about 10 different 3G cell phone models in each market.

The service offers six TV genres, including news, sports, music, comedy, youth and entertainment, around the clock. T-Mobile has only about 200,000 3G users across nine countries in Europe, and not all have TV capability.

In addition to mobile VOD content, MTVNI offers 12 channels — including MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Comedy and Game One — on mobile TV in 10 Europe countries.

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