Malaysians can watch live EPL TV on cellphone

In Malaysia, for a flat fee of just RM20 a month and no hidden costs – so it is promised – you can now get live television on your 3G cellphone, or 2.5G handset with General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) or Enhanced Data rate for GSM Evolution (EDGE) capability. The Star's Amir Khalid reports that the innovation is due to Dublin-based Qtelmedia Group Ltd, whose chief executive Sinead O’Sullivan is currently working out of Malaysia as she "oversees the expansion of its Malaysian operations, which have become the hub of its operations in Asia."

Live television on a cellphone is an important potential new revenue stream for cellular operators at a time when competition from each other and from Internet-based voice call providers like Skype is driving down the prices that can be charged for voice calls, O’Sullivan said. But thus far, the uptake of television on cellular in Malaysia has been discouraging. There are three main reasons, which are the cost of accessing video on a cellular phone, particularly with packet-based services; second, the prices of the third-generation phones themselves, which are four times or more the price of 2.5G phones; and third, the shortage of compelling content.

Qtelmedia is addressing these three issues, O’Sullivan said. The first issue it is addressing with a pricing model that consists of a low flat fee and no hidden charges. Second, it is making television accessible and affordable to users of cheaper 2.5G phones via GPRS and EDGE technologies. Thirdly, it is seeking out partners to help provide that compelling content.

Some of the content would be brought in from abroad. Taking advantage of the longstanding Malaysian craze for English Premier League football, Qtelmedia has signed content-provider agreements with Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC, two of the Premier League clubs most popular here. Manchester United FC, even more popular with Malaysian fans, wanted too high a price, she grumbled.