Ever wanted to know the name of a song on the radio or find out what guests are featuring on the show or instantly buy a ringtone of the song you are listening to with ‘one click’? This year don’t just listen to the radio through your mobile phone – try out Visual Radio and get the latest information on artists, songs and your favourite DJs and shows through your O2 handset.   Beginning in March 2006, HP, O2 and Virgin Radio will be offering Visual Radio, a new mobile radio service to Virgin Radio listeners, with plans to roll out to other radio stations in the future. The service will be available to O2 customers who use a Nokia phone that has been pre-loaded with the Visual Radio application.   Developed by Nokia and powered by HP, Visual Radio adds a new dimension to FM radio with interactive content and services for mobile listeners. Visual Radio allows listeners to tune in to local FM radio via their mobile phones while simultaneously receiving interactive information and graphics that are synchronized with the broadcast. Text and graphics are delivered via the mobile network onto the screen of the mobile handset. Initially listeners will see ‘now playing’ information, artist pictures, DJ information and be able to participate in unique quizzes and enter competitions.  You will also be able to download ringtones at the touch of a button while listening Virgin Radio.  Going forward new features will be added over time including  finding out future tour dates, reading hot gossip on artist, rating  and dedicating songs and  accessing news, traffic and weather information with high quality graphics and interesting facts. This new technology opens up new business models to broadcasters and content creators to reach listeners in new ways, differentiate themselves from their competitors, create enhanced advertising opportunities and open new revenue streams.   How does visual radio work? With more than 3 million people worldwide listening to the radio on their mobile phone in 2005[1], Visual Radio will enhance the consumers experience. With Visual Radio built into your phone, you can still listen to any FM radio station you like. However when you tune in to Virgin Radio, switch Visual Radio on and you will get a completely new kind of radio experience. This new interactive Visual Radio service is provided over the mobile network to your O2 Visual Radio enabled mobile phone.   James Parton, Head of Music, TV and Radio products at O2 comments, “Radio is a big part of our everyday lives, whether it helps us pass the time on our commute into work, keeps us up to date with the weekly pop charts or gives us breaking news first. The in-built radios in many of our handsets have always been popular with people who are always on the move, but now visual radio lets you really interact whether that is with the actual DJ themselves or downloading ringtones of your favourite songs over the O2 network.”   James Cridland, Director of Digital Media at Virgin Radio, “Visual Radio enhances the listening experience and interaction with the station for every listener.  It can also give advertisers a more dynamic platform to communicate their messages.  Virgin Radio is yet again driving the technological development of the radio medium”   “Nokia is very pleased to see the enormous interest towards Visual Radio,” says Tommi Mustonen, General Manager of Nokia’s Visual Radio Business. “Visual Radio is now available in the UK for the first time on our Nokia Visual Radio enabled mobile phones.”   Visual Radio is sold, marketed and serviced by HP to broadcasters and mobile operators. HP provides the Visual Radio services as a hosted solution, enables and manages the Visual Radio service and download content delivered over the mobile network as well as providing training and technical support. “Since introducing the Visual Radio service, HP has worked with industry leaders like O2 and Virgin Radio to deliver Visual Radio to listeners around the world,” said Debbie Brackeen, director of strategic initiatives, HP. “We look forward to working with our partners to make Visual Radio a success in the UK.”   Usage of Visual Radio is charged at O2’s standard data rates of £3.00 per Mb dependent on tariff or O2 Browse and Download bolt on’s from £3 for 2mb and £5 for 4mb. To find out more information or try an online demonstration of the service, log on to www.visualradio.com or visit www.o2.co.uk/visualradio
[1] RAJAR 2006

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