China Mobile Ltd. (941), the world’s largest phone company by users, started a mobile television service today in Hong Kong to generate more revenue from smartphone users.
The service has both free and paid channels that can run on tablets and smartphones with Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s Android system, China Mobile said in statement. The service also works on Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s iPhone using a plug-in receiver called a dongle, the Beijing- based company said.
China Mobile is counting on the shift to high-speed data networks to boost revenue as its sales growth will probably slow to about 6 percent this year from almost 9 percent in 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The new mobile TV service will increase data traffic on the carrier’s network, while creating another revenue stream as a media content distributor, the company said.
“Hong Kong is a very special environment, so a lot of new services can be tested here,” Sean Lee, chief executive officer of China Mobile’s Hong Kong unit, said at a press conference in the territory today. “We believe mobile and multimedia platforms are converging.”
The new service, dubbed UTV, can also run on portable media players using China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting software, the company said.
China Mobile rose 0.5 percent to HK$88.55 at the close in Hong Kong trading. The stock has advanced 17 percent this year, compared with a 21 percent gain for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index.
Free programs available with the service include user- generated content and TVB News, it said in the statement. Paid packages costing HK$58 ($7.50) a month give users access to content including MNC International, Mei Ah HD Movie Channel, Star Chinese Channel, Cartoon Network and Nat Geo Wild, the company said.
China Mobile began offering fourth-generation wireless services in Hong Kong in April, before the official rollout across China. In August, the company said its state-owned parent will expand a 4G trial to 20,000 base stations in 13 cities in the second half, from seven cities in the first six months of the year.
In the first nine months of 2012, data traffic over the carrier’s wireless networks surged 61 percent from a year earlier to 626 billion megabytes, China Mobile said in October. The increase was driven by services including downloads of videos and e-books, the company said at the time.
China Mobile had 703 million subscribers at the end of October, including 79.3 million users of high-speed, third- generation services that give smartphones faster Internet access.
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