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DISH Network, Alcatel to Test Mobile TV Technology

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NEW YORK (Dow Jones) DISH Network wants to bring video service to not only its subscribers' televisions, but their cellphones too.

DISH and Alcatel-Lucent are partnering to test out technology that would allow the broadcast of video streams to mobile devices. They plan to hold trials from May to August in DISH's Atlanta facilities to determine if the technology holds up. If successful, it could provide another revenue stream for the company.

DISH has been exploring alternative businesses to augment its core satellite TV service. While still growing, it faces the prospect of getting squeezed out by the battling cable and telco companies, which each offer landline Internet connections. DISH also faces pressure from rival DirecTV Group, which jumped ahead in offering more high-definition channels.

Englewood, Colo.-based DISH spent more than $700 million on 168 wireless licenses in the last Federal Communications Commission auction. There is a lot of speculation over what DISH intends to do with the spectrum, with possibilities ranging from cellphone service to a wireless Internet network.

DISH is now exploring a mobile video delivery service, although spokeswoman Francie Bauer declined to comment when asked whether the recently purchased spectrum was earmarked for this use.

The spectrum won't be available for a while since the television broadcasters - who currently use it - have until next year to vacate the spectrum.

The companies will be testing a derivative of a technology called the Digital Video Broadcasting Handheld standard - backed by Nokia Corp. (NOK). In March, the European Commission declared DVB-H the standard for mobile TV in Europe. The new version can carry twice the number of channels, works with different spectrum frequencies, and can be handled by broadcast towers on the ground and satellites in space.

"Mobile TV is considered by many as a huge mass market in the coming year," said Olivier Coste, chairman of Alcatel's mobile broadcast activities. "We're confident in the market development because of what we're seeing in the rest of the world."

While a standard in Europe, the technology is rarely used in the U.S., where Qualcomm's MediaFlo technology dominates. Verizon Wireless - jointly owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group - offers the service, and AT&T plans to launch it next month.

Alcatel is working with satellite communications company ICO Global Communications Holdings to test the same technology, Coste said.

-By Roger Cheng, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-2020; roger.cheng@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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