3-Channel Smartphone and Tablet TV Platform Launches

NOTTV uses bandwidth freed from analogue broadcasts as switch to digital is completed

TOKYO –  A three-channel smartphone and tablet-dedicated HD TV platform NOTTV, launched on April 1, using some of the bandwidth freed by the digital switchover of terrestrial television broadcasts.

Operated by mmbi Inc, a joint venture between Japan’s biggest mobile carrier NTT Docomo, the major TV nets, advertising agencies and electronics companies, the service will cost 420 yen ($5) a month.

As well as the three channels of drama, films, music, variety, news and sports shows, NOTTV will offer downloading of videos, apps, ebooks, games and other data to devices without using the phone network.  Utilizing the newly available bandwidth will take some of the strain off Docomo’s cellular network, which along with that of rival au, has suffered from overload due to the increase in data traffic that has accompanied the spread of smartphones. 

Initially the service will be available on only one Sharp smartphone and one NEC Casio tablet, with plans to increase the number of compatible devices. Broadcasts will also be initially centered on the main urban centers of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.  

NOTTV’s big challenge will be to get customers to pay for the service when free digital broadcasts have been available on nearly all 3G phones in Japan for years through the One-Seg platform.

Japan also made the final move to all-digital terrestrial broadcasting on April 1 as the three tsunami-hit prefectures made their delayed switch, which happened last summer in the rest of the country. The bandwidth from the former analogue broadcasts is being made available to services such as NOTTV, as well as to new satellite channels.