No sooner had television broadcasters abandoned their analog spectrum June 12 than Qualcomm moved into some of the vacant space, highlighting the promise of the new advanced wireless services coming to the 700MHz spectrum.
With a flip of the switch, FLO TV, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm, turned on 100 new transmitters across the United States and expanded its mobile television service to 15 new markets, including Boston, Houston, Miami and San Francisco. Qualcomm also will expand service in existing markets, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington.
“The DTV transition is a milestone for TV lovers everywhere; with the completion of FLO TV’s nationwide network, consumers across the country now have the ability to watch TV on the go with the same high quality they’d expect in their living rooms,” Bill Stone, president of FLO TV, said in a statement.
Qualcomm spent $550 million in 2008 in the Federal Communications Commission’s national auction to sell off spectrum being vacated by broadcasters. In addition, Qualcomm says it has spent “hundreds of millions” to build its network for the delivery of a mobile television service that can deliver 15 channels on the same frequency as one analog channel.
Long dubbed “beachfront” spectrum, the 700MHz band is considered ideal for advanced wireless services such as mobile television and wireless broadband because the signals are strong enough to penetrate most interference. In all, the spectrum auction brought in almost $20 billion, with Verizon spending $9.6 billion and AT&T dropping another $6.6 billion.
“With this national coverage, we are poised to take on the next level of consumer engagement by bringing the FLO TV service to customers on multiple entertainment devices beyond the mobile phone,” Stone said.
In addition to its own mobile television service, Qualcomm also wholesales FLO TV to Verizon and AT&T. In January, Qualcomm announced a partnership between FLO TV and Audiovox, a marketer of automotive entertainment systems, to be the exclusive supplier of in-vehicle units that will work with a car’s existing video viewing equipment.