Digital Content

About 125 million consumers will watch television on their mobile phone in five years from now, a new survey found recently.

Mobile television is not yet commercially available, but trials are carried out around the world, and consumers are expected to be able to pick up the first TV phones by the end of the year.

Handset makers will sell 130 000 TV phones this year, rising to 83.5 million by 2010, said research group Informa.

Mobile TV signals will be handled by special chips on a mobile phone that sit alongside the chips that process the mobile phone's calls, music and streaming video clips.

The difference between TV and streaming video services will be that the TV signals are broadcast to all users at the same time, while streaming video will be delivered on demand by mobile operators.

Mobile TV images are also expected to be of higher quality than mobile video streams.

"The degree to which these networks will become either competitive or complementary will ultimately determine the fate of market," analyst David McQueen said in the report.

Well-entrenched TV viewing habits and the fact that in North America and Europe the vast majority of people already carry a mobile phone will fuel the market.

Nokia has said it will introduce a mobile TV phone in the first half of 2006 and expects volume sales as early as in the second half of 2006. Samsung Electronics from Korea has also showed its first TV phones.

Chipmakers such as Dutch electronics firm Philips and US mobile technology company Qualcomm are scrambling to get energy-efficient chips out before the end of the year.