Norwegian network and Ericsson offer interactive mobile television

Norwegian broadcaster NRK and Swedish wireless equipment maker LM Ericsson on Friday announced what they say is the world's first test of interactive mobile television. During the six-week test, which started Monday, users can download a program for watching and interacting with the Norwegian youth music program "Svisj" on their mobile phones.

Users can vote for the next music video by pressing a mobile phone key, and chat in writing with each other or the program leaders while watching the show. Espen Torgersen, a telecommunications analyst with the Carnegie Investment Bank AB, said the extent of interaction of the system may be new, but that many similar projects are under way. "It's an area that is in its very early stages," he said. "It may have potential but it means nothing to us right now. It could be something if it catches on." Gunnar Garfors, director of mobile services for the state broadcaster NRK, said hundreds of viewers downloaded the free software during the first week of the test. "We see it as something that can be used in other programs," Garfors told The Associated Press. "When the tests are completed we will evaluate the results ... for future commercial use."

Viewers could already chat with "Svisj" program leaders by sending SMS messages from their mobile phones. With the new system, they can watch on their phones and communicate at the same time at about the half the cost of each standard text message, he said. For the test, the service is oriented mainly to phones made by Sony Ericsson, a joint venture between Ericsson and Japan's Sony Corp.

The new interactive application has been named IM-TV by Ericsson, and is based on existing technology, a news release said. "Our solution makes it possible for viewers to interact with a show that they are watching on their mobile device in a whole new way, creating a much richer TV experience with the help of the mobile channel," said Kurt Sillen, vice president of Ericsson Mobility World, reports the AP. N.U.

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