This article at Ars about the economics and technical challenges of watching TV on your cel phone leaves me confused. For one thing, Sprint already offers TV, and they seem to meet the affordability problem by simply charging up the wazoo. My cell phone can support streaming TV but I’d have to pay an extra $15/month at minimum for the service; a more realistic unlimited usage plan is a $40 addon.
But what’s even more puzzling is why cell phones don’t just allow you to watch standard TV. Rather than muck about with bandwidth concerns over the cell network, just receive the TV signal from actual TV towers. Am I missing something here? Doesn’t that seem the easiest route? The resolution on my cell phone LCD is probably higher than my analog TV anyway; with HDTV that won’t be the case but the signal can always be downsampled in realtime (easier than upsampling since there’s no interpolation involved).
Sure, the cell phone companies don’t get any revenue by this, but the cell phone makers could certainly sell it as a value-added feature on upscale phones. People would pay; I know I’d watch TV on my cell phone while commuting on the bus, for example – much easier than dealing with digital downloads and portable DVD players and whatnot.
UPDATE: The Japanese have had analog TV on their cell phones since 2003, and now have digital TV too.