Orange has launched the first mobile telephone television service in the UK, allowing customers to watch news, sport and entertainment programmes on a 3G phone.

Orange TV initially features nine channels: CNN and ITN News, Comedy Time, Cartoon Network, Toon World, Fashion TV and extreme sports, with dedicated coverage for reality television shows Big Brother and Celebrity Love Island.

The service will be available where there is Orange 3G network coverage, initially only on the Nokia 6680, with support for further handsets to follow.

Customers can download the TV application from the Orange World web site, and pay £10 a month on top of their normal bill to watch the channels. The subscription includes 1GB of data exclusively for use with the TV service, enough for around 20 hours of viewing.

“This signals the start of a huge new opportunity for our customers, broadcasters, handset manufacturers and production companies,” said Alexis Dormandy of Orange. “We’re talking to broadcasters about new, exciting content and we’re looking forward to adding more great Orange TV channels in the near future.”

Orange, which is controlled by France Telecom, already provides television to mobile telephones in France.

The Orange video service is streamed over the 3G network, rather than broadcast.

Rival operator O2 is planning to trial broadcast mobile television in the Oxford area using DVB-H, a variant of the terrestrial transmission standard, which is specially designed to reduce battery consumption and provide robust reception on the move.

Video was originally seen as one of the big drivers for 3G networks, for which mobile operators in the UK collectively paid £22.5 billion in licences.