O2, Vodafone, and Orange team up for mobile broadcast "gold rush"

Mobile phone operators O2, Vodafone, and Orange, have teamed up to announce a new mobile broadcast system that the three companies will launch in October of this year.

The internet mobile broadcast (IMB) system will run on an all but ignored 3G spectrum called Time Division Duplex (TDD), which, while licensed to many European mobile operators, is seldom used due to a lack of suitable technology for the spectrum. 

However, with more than 150 operators in 60 odd countries holding unused TDD licenses, and a coverage of over half a billion customers, this mobile broadcast venture could get off to a very good start.

IMB is a 3GPP technology pioneered by a number of companies, including IPWireless and Ericsson, who will be providing the end-to-end technology and integration services for the pilot program. Streamezzo, recently acquired by AMDOCS, will be making the user interface for it.

The technology will allow users to stream video while simultaneously offloading traffic from current 3G networks onto devices, providing what the partnership is calling a better user experience at a lower cost.

The system has recently been endorsed by the GSMA, which said it was “pleased” to see the UK operators teaming up to deliver IMB.

The pilot run is expected to last for three months from October and will be held in the London and Slough areas. 

“By joining our peers in this UK Pilot, we expect to be able to explore the potential of delivering broadcast services across available 3G spectrum,” said Luke Ibbetson, Head of Technology R&D at Vodafone.