Qualcomm Ready to FLO with DTV
Disappointed with lawmakers' decision to delay the digital television transition until June 12, Qualcomm is finally ready to roll with its expanded mobile television service. Not only will Qualcomm wholesale the service to Verizon and AT&T, the company plans to sell mobile TV directly to consumers.
In March 2008, the Federal Communications
Commission raked in a record $19.6 billion in an auction to sell off the analog
spectrum occupied by television broadcasters. The idea was for television
stations to abandon the space by Feb. 17, 2009, to clear the way for the auction winners to begin
delivering advanced wireless services such as broadband.
But it didn't happen. President Obama swept into the White House and promptly urged Congress to delay the digital transition because of fears that Americans were unprepared for the switch. Lawmakers pushed the digital transition to June 12. While the biggest winners of the auction, Verizon ($9.6 billion) and AT&T ($6.6 billion), were circumspect about the delay, Qualcomm, which spent $550 million in the auction to acquire the analog spectrum that carries Channel 55, wasn't happy about the delay.
"Unlike other companies, we are prepared to launched our FLO TV service and turn on 100 new transmitters across the U.S. immediately after the transition date, which will allow a total of more than 180 million consumers in 80 markets to use our ... innovative wireless service," Qualcomm said in a statement urging Congress to hold the course on the Feb. 17 DTV deadline.
Qualcomm is just as anxious the second time around to crank up the FLO service, which it currently wholesales to Verizon and AT&T. Qualcomm claims it has spent "hundreds of millions" to build its network for the delivery of the mobile television service that can deliver 15 channels on the same frequency as one analog channel.
FLO TV President Bill Stone told TelephonyOnline June 5 that Qualcomm is not only excited to be finally launching an expanded service with its partners Verizon and AT&T, but also plans to sell its mobile TV service directly to consumers.
Stone said Qualcomm plans to initially target FLO TV to the auto industry with an embedded auto entertainment system and to the mobile market with an accessory that can transmit FLO content to Wi-Fi-enabled media devices like the iPhone. Stone envisions FLO TV technology embedded in a wide range of consumer products, he said.
"The FLO network is built for scale," Stone said. "As you add more subscribers, your costs from a network perspective don't increase. Once we're deployed in a market it doesn't matter how many customers are signed up."