Sling Application Feeds Home Cable TV Direct to a Mobile Phone
Embracing a technology that has unnerved media and telecommunications companies, a major European wireless provider will let customers watch their home cable TV on a mobile phone - if they also have a device called the Slingbox back at the house.
3 Group will launch the new service in Britain first, starting December 1, followed by three more of its 11 markets in early 2007.
Two new handsets running on 3's next-generation wireless network will feature the Sling application, which customers can use to watch any channel available on their cable TV at home.
The phones also can be used to control a digital video recorder at home, pausing and rewinding live television, playing previously recorded shows, or setting up the DVR to record a program.
The partnership with 3 is a watershed for Sling Media, the first sign of official recognition from the industry "establishment" for a renegade device that the California-based company began selling a year ago.
The Slingbox, hooked up simultaneously to a set-top cable box and a broadband connection, can stream live and recorded video over the internet to any laptop or handheld equipped with SlingPlayer software.
The gadget is the latest in a line of devices that have reshaped the way people watch television over the past few decades.
Before the VCR, catching a TV show required viewers to conform to a schedule set by networks. More recently, digital video recorders such as the TiVo made it possible to skip commercials and even rewind a live program. Now devices and software like the Sling not only make it possible to watch TV anytime but also anywhere.
But much as TV networks and movie companies initially questioned the rights of viewers to record their content on a TiVo, they also have objected to the notion that monthly cable fees paid by subscribers entitle them to view cable programming in more than one location. …