Video over GPRS, yeah right…

Mobile phones

There’s a really good feature in Media Guardian by Dominic Timms about the future of video on mobile phones.

Last week Vodafone signed a deal with UEFA to offer Champions League footy highlights to its subscribers over 2.5g GPRS networks. A date hasn’t yet been announced for a UK launch, but there’s a an interesting quote from Graeme Ferguson, head of business development and content for Vodafone Global, who says “Our message is that you don’t have to wait for 3G, you can do a hell of a lot on 2G.”

Well here’s hoping that it is a lot better than the video currently being offered by Vodafone to Sharp GX20 owners. At the moment there’s just a series of virtually static clips from ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here.’ They take nearly two minutes to download and only fill up around half of the screen.

Unless Vodafone has some amazing compression tricks up its sleeve I really can’t see how it can offer fast-moving football action on a mobile in the quality that someone would actually be prepared to pay for it.

Orange also doesn’t appear convinced by video over GPRS. Its service, which is much more fun than Vodafone’s, has been in the ‘experimental’ stage now for over a year.

Conversely Three’s premiership goals service is excellent. The recently launched Motorola A920 offers video at 24 frames per second enabling a football clip can fill an entire PDA-sized screen without blocking.

Even MTV, which has recently signed a deal with Three, is sniffy about video over 2.5g.

Sure i would like to be proved wrong, but I fear quality video over GPRS really is a pipe dream.

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