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T-Systems,Samsung: Fuzzy picture on mobile TV

T-Systems,Samsung: Fuzzy picture on mobile TV

Germany's T-Systems says -- contrary to news reports -- that it has no contract to buy mobile TV handsets from Samsung.

Maybe it was wishful thinking. Maybe it was a deliberate public relations move. But contrary to news reports that originated on Monday in South Korea, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has not signed a contract with T-Systems International GmbH, the IT services and infrastructure arm of Deutsche Telekom AG, to deliver handsets capable of receiving broadcast TV signals based on a local standard.

"We have no contracts to purchase and distribute handsets," said Thomas Wächter, director of digital broadcasting technology at T-Systems. "That's not our business."

T-Mobile International AG, the mobile arm of Deutsche Telekom and the unit typically responsible for purchasing handsets, was also unaware of a deal. "This is news to me," said company spokeswoman Marion Kessing.

Several media groups, including The Korea Times, reported that Samsung had signed a mobile TV handset deal with T-Systems, referring to a statement from the South Korean manufacturer.

A statement was not available on the manufacturer's English-language Web site.

Neither Samsung's headquarters nor its subsidiary in Germany could be immediately reached.

"What we signed late last month was an MOU (memorandum of understanding) to cooperate in the development and promotion of mobile TV services," Wächter said. "As part of this agreement, we will test equipment from Samsung, including handsets. But we have no contract to purchase equipment."

At the Cebit trade show in March, T-Systems demonstrated mobile TV, using a handset from Samsung based on the DMB (Digital Media Broadcasting) format. This format, which evolved from the DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) standard, is being pushed by South Korean manufacturers, including LG Electronics Inc., the first company to offer a mobile TV phone based on the DMB format last November.

Although T-Systems plans to provide broadcasting infrastructure services for mobile TV service at the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup soccer tournament in Germany next year, the unit has yet to reach a decision with TV stations and mobile operators as to which technology will be used, according to Wächter.

Two competing standards are under review: South Korea's DMB; and DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld), which was approved by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute in November. The DVB-H standard is backed by some of the world's largest handset makers, including Motorola Inc., NEC Corp., Nokia Corp., Siemens AG and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB.

"The choice of standard could depend, at least for mobile TV service at the World Cup games, on available frequencies, and if this is the case, DMB could have an advantage," Wächter said.

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