Telcos dial up more TV content

World Brief

MEXICO — Mexican telcos are bowing a mass of mobile entertainment to boost take-up of their cell phone services.

Iusacell, owned by media and retail billionaire Carlos Salinas, will be the first to roll out live TV via cell phones later this summer.

Mobi TV is providing the technological platform and licenses that will allow Iusacell to offer Toon World, Fashion TV, Comedy Time, ABC News and TV Azteca’s national channels. Iusacell spent $21 million upgrading its network to 3G this year, says Carlos Silva, senior manager of data services.

It has 400,000 monthly plan users, the highest of any operator in Mexico, where 94% of the nation’s 41 million mobile phones use pre-paid cards.

Silva says company plans to offer more channels, including premium content.

“We want to have a controlled release,” he says. “The technology is so new, if you put a infinite range of options out there, you just confuse users.”

While other Mexican companies without 3G can’t offer real-time TV, they can offer video downloads.

Telcel, owned by Latin America’s wealthiest businessman, Carlos Slim, pacted last week with Motorola and Fox Latin American Channels to offer “24: Conspiracy,” the first made-for-mobile series. It has already been released in the U.S. and U.K.

Telcel users can download a one-minute “mobisode” each week.

Fox Latin American Channel veep Carlos Martinez says the deal is “only the beginning” of the partnership.

Fox is preparing to offer the mobile series throughout Latin America.

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