KOREA: Cell phone-based broadcasting starts

SK Telecom's TU Media enables the broadcasting of seven satellite channels and 20 audio channels to its cell phone subscribers

The Korea Times
Sunday, May 1, 2005

Seoul -- A whole new world looks set to emerge with video-on-the-go services and the traditional couch potato may become a thing of the past.

TU Media on Sunday started to beam the signal of satellite digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) to cell phones for the first time in the world.

Satellite DMB enables people on the move to enjoy seamless video streaming, theater-quality audio and data through a hand-held device much like a handset or an in-car terminal.

Japan’s Mobile Broadcasting Corp. (MBCo) embarked on satellite DMB offerings late last month, modeling it for in-car terminals not cell phones.

TU Media, a unit of Korea’s foremost mobile operator SK Telecom, now runs seven satellite DMB video channels--news, sports, soap operas, games, movies, and the firm’s own station--plus 20 audio channels.

The company aims to make take-out TV more attractive by increasing the number of video channels to 14 by adding popular over-the-air programs to its line-up.

Mobile couch potato wannabes can buy satellite DMB-enabled phones and sign up for the service at a one-time subscription fee of 20,000 won and a monthly usage rate of 13,000 won.

Currently, just two models of satellite DMB-capable handsets are available-Samsung Electronics’ SCH-B100 and SK Teletech’s IBM-1000.

The price of the SCH-B100 is 850,000 won and the IBM-1000 sells at above 700,000 won. TU Media has no immediate plan to grant subsidies to buyers of the expensive handsets.

Clients under a one-year mandatory contract will get a 10-percent discount off the monthly fee from TU Media and the rate cut will rise to 15 percent for a two-year deal and to 20 percent for a three-year contract.

TU Media is to stage a promotion campaign this month, which will offer exemptions to new customers from subscription and monthly fees.