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BEYOND THE NETWORK: Ericsson snares Turner content deal

INFRASTRUCTURE POWERHOUSE L.M. ERICSSON became the latest network maker to try its hand in the content arena. Ericsson, the world’s largest equipment manufacturer, announced a partnership with Turner Broadcasting System International to develop and deliver Turner’s suite of news and entertainment content to the world of mobile.
The collaboration comes as more network providers and operators move into the content delivery game. Chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. has
moved into mobile television with its MediaFLO streaming television service. Handset behemoth Nokia Corp. has tested a variety of content services; the company is experimenting in music with its LoudEye storefront and played in mobile gaming via its N-Gage device. A few years ago, Motorola Inc. teamed up with July Systems to try to operate a mobile storefront. Ericsson, through its joint venture with Sony, recently moved into mobile music with M-BUZZ.
Ericsson is slated to provide hosting and content management technology that Turner will rely on for its mobile offerings. When the service is fully developed, more than 2,000 breaking news stories, including 14 days of news will be available, said Ericsson Senior VP Jan Wareby. “This is just the beginning,” said Wareby, the head of multimedia at Ericsson.
The service is set to launch this week at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, and later expand to Latin America before it goes worldwide, Wareby said. While the service will eventually have a strong mobile TV and video focus, the initial launch will be mostly text based. CNN Mobile, which will be the first product launch, will also include an hourly three-minute news video update called World News Now, said Casey Harwood, senior VP of digital media at Turner.
“This, for us, is really about taking our product to the next level,” he said. A consumer version of the service will launch on March 1, comprised entirely of CNN Mobile content, with more content offerings to follow throughout the year, he said. The service will include a searchable, on-demand archive, breaking news and other on-demand video, Harwood said.
Part of the appeal for Turner is Ericsson’s ability to accurately provide information on who’s watching what, for how long and when, he said. “The data we’re getting back from operators is getting better, but it’s not enough, we feel, to plan our business.”
However, the deal with Ericsson isn’t exclusive, he added. Turner is continuing to trial DVB-H mobile broadcast television, but Harwood shared some insight into the company’s overall strategy with mobile TV, which could very well stoke the debate over the proper venue for its delivery. “I have a feeling that DVB-H, the sort of broadcast delivery if you like, will be a fantastic short window for television services to the mobile phone. I think it will offer an excellent platform for subsequent on-demand services coming off there, which may be delivered by 3G,” he said.
The partnership with Ericsson will make Turner’s content available to a mobile audience regardless of the users’ device. Meanwhile, the collaboration is in step with Ericsson’s strategy to be an enabler in the mobile multimedia content market, Wareby said.
“I would like to consider this as a winning example how business models from operators and media companies are being transformed through Ericsson’s innovative mobile technology. And by putting together our respective leading positions in mobility and global multimedia content, consumers will enjoy a richer mobile multimedia experience while mobile service providers will get new revenue streams,” he said.

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