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Showing posts with label MediaFLO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MediaFLO. Show all posts

Monday, 26 July 2010

Qualcomm probably given up on Mobile TV idea


Bad news for Mobile TV proponents and supporters.

Qualcomm apparently is in talks to sell off its struggling MediaFLO digital mobile TV business, executives said in a conference call on Wednesday.

The announcement came during the conference call accompanying Qualcomm's third-quarter earnings. Qualcomm reported net income of $767 million, up 4 percent from a year ago, on revenue of $2.71 billion, which decreased 2 percent over the same period a year ago.

During the call, Qualcomm chief executive Paul Jacobs announced the new direction for its MediaFLO business, a subsidiary of Qualcomm. MediaFLO brands its digital mobile television service as FLO TV. Qualcomm had saddled the business with a three-year, nonrefundable prepaid service agreement, which apparently hasn't helped MediaFLO's prospects.

"With respect to our FLO TV business, we're engaged in discussions with a number of partners regarding the future direction of the business," Jacobs said, according to a transcript by Seeking Alpha. "We are considering a number of alternatives and we will update you as appropriate."

This news comes at a time when Mobile TV business as a whole is not doing very well. Couple of weeks back I blogged about Mobile TV in China which has not been as successful as initially thought.

Qualcomm was one of the early proponents on another technology called MBMS. Couple of years back they decided to back MediaFLO and not focus much on MBMS. They bought the 700MHz spectrum in the US and launched nationwide TV network. This is also used by other carriers to deliver broadcasts to their devices.

In fact just a few months back they were pushing their standalone FLO TV device. Anyway, it seems they have probably given up on Mobile TV idea like a lot of others who dont see much return for the investment in Mobile TV. The average person is happy and content just to be able to watch Youtube on their mobile.

The following is from Rethink Wireless:

One option might be to shutter MediaFLO itself and sell on the licenses and tower assets - 700MHz is seen as beachfront spectrum in the US, and both Verizon and AT&T will build their initial LTE networks there. Jacobs made clear, in an interview with GigaOM, that he would rather keep MediaFLO as a content system. He said: "We want to see FLO continue so it's not like we'd want to sell the spectrum, but there are certainly people who would buy it for the spectrum. The spectrum is extremely valuable."

Qualcomm always intended to sell MediaFLO eventually - its usual route when it invests in spectrum and builds networks. The same pattern will be seen in India, where it will work with local partners to create a TD-LTE system in the 2.3GHz spectrum it recently acquired and then will sell the business on once established. However, it would have hoped to make more return on its investment in FLO before exiting. "We put FLO TV operations into our strategic investments for financial reporting because we always intended to get out of the operator business. …. It's not operating the way we want it to - it's not necessarily our core business, so we're looking at our options," Jacobs said in the same interview.


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Mobile TV: Any Luck?

Mobile TV, once touted as 'the technology' does not yet seem to be having any luck.

Mobile television suffered another setback when the U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to delay the broadcast airwaves' long-planned transition to all-digital services from Feb. 17 to June 12, a move that effectively forces Qualcomm to postpone plans to increase its MediaFLO TV footprint until early summer. Qualcomm previously said it would turn on FLO TV service in more than 40 additional U.S. cities on Feb. 17, an expansion timed to coincide with a federal law mandating that all full-power television stations must terminate analog broadcasting on that date. The transition to digital television frees up the 700 MHz spectrum auctioned last year by the FCC--Qualcomm spent more than $500 million acquiring eight licenses during the auction, and hopes to serve about 200 million potential mobile TV subscribers in more than 100 U.S. markets by the close of 2009. But with the Nielsen Company estimating that 6.5 million American households remain unprepared for the switch to digital TV, and Congress mulling a stimulus package that includes as much as $650 million in financing for coupons to ease the transition, Qualcomm must now sit tight for four additional months.

According to a report from Nielsen Mobile, only 5% of all U.S. cell phone owners subscribe to a mobile TV service. Yet that number is the highest out of of all the other worldwide markets tracked by the company. Only France and Italy came close, each at 4 percent. According to Nielsen, mobile video use isn't more prevalent due to lack of differentiating capabilities, high cost, and lack of compelling content. In fact, we are now even seeing mobile video's plateau - a point where you would normally expect to see adoption slow considerably.

In the U.S., 10.3 million mobile phone subscribers watch video content on their mobile phones each month. These clips from mobile web sites, subscriptions delivered by the carrier, or through mobile "live" TV programming. But the mobile video subscription market has barely grown during the past year. In Q3 2007 it was at 6.4 percent and by Q3 2008 it was only 7.3 percent. And only 26% of subscribers who paid for mobile video services during the third quarter of 2008 used them at least once a month.

The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), announced that a new mobile DTV service will soon arrive in 22 U.S. cities, covering 35% of U.S. television households. The mobile service aims to provide live, local and national over-the-air digital television to mobile devices.

Included in the service are 63 stations from the 25 major broadcasters that are on board. Those include NBC Television, Gannett Broadcasting, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Fox Television, Belo Corp., Grey Television, Scripps Television, Hearst Argyle Television, ION Media Networks and Lin Television.

This mobile TV service may succeed where others have failed because it bypasses the carriers altogether. Instead, the service uses an ATSC broadcasting system to beam signals directly from the station to the mobile devices themselves. This unburdens the carriers from having to support the data transmissions - they just have to sell the phones.

If France doesn't decide to go down the DVB-H route, there are many who think that could signal the end of the road for the mobile broadcast standard in most European markets
According to one industry commentator, there's a lot riding on the French. Our source, who would rather not be named, thinks that if the French market does not decide to follow the DVB-H standard this year, then that could be the end for the mobile broadcast standard in the region as a whole.


Certainly, the signs have not been good elsewhere - and the industry is dogged by accusations of self-interest. For example, despite operator pressure, Nokia, which sits on 40-50% market share in most European markets, has not moved as fast as the industry had hoped to push DVB-H and DRM technology into its handsets.

According to the head end vendors, and this is a surprisingly widely held view, the issue has been that Nokia has tried to tie the sale of its network infrastructure to the development of its handset range.

"Nokia is saying, give us the head end, and we will give you the handsets," one competing vendor told us.

The China Digital Television Terrestrial Broadcasting (DTTB) System Standard, also known as GB20600-2006, became the mandatory national DTTB standard in August 2007.

GB20600-2006 was designed to deliver a consistent, high-quality digital TV viewing experience no matter where consumers are sitting: in their living room watching television or on a high-speed train watching shows on their cell phones. The technology can broadcast audio and video at transmission rates of greater than 24 Mbps to consumer devices. Because the mobile reception capability is inherently built into the standard, these consumer devices now have a mobile TV feature that works not only when stationary, but even while traveling at speeds greater than 200 km per hour.

The China television market is in the midst of a broadcast revolution because of this new free-to-air terrestrial DTV standard. GB20600-2006 is spurring station owners to broadcast HDTV signals to TVs and set-top boxes, creating a market opportunity that is larger than any other in the world. With 380 million television households, China is home to more televisions than any other country in the world. And nearly 70 percent of those households receive their programming via roof-top antenna.

At the same time, the GB20600-2006 standard is creating a significant new market for mobile TV services. There are more than 600 million cell phone subscribers in China and nearly seven million new mobile phones are purchased each month. Now that the free-to-air HDTV broadcast signal has become a reality, manufacturers of cell phones and other handheld mobile devices are rushing to incorporate mobile TV reception into their products.

Technical details are available here.

China also has its mobile specific TV standard called the CMMB (China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting). Leading mobile TV chip-maker Siano Mobile Silicon's CMMB receiver chip, the SMS1180, has been selected to power CMMB mobile TV for leading Chinese phone-makers ZTE, Tianyu, CEC Telecom and MP3/4 giant AIGO.

The number of mobile TV subscribers in Korea grew by almost 60% in 2008 following aggressive marketing campaigns and the Beijing Olympics, reports the Yonhap News Agency.

The number of DMB users totalled 17.25 million at the end of 2008, up 59.9% from a year earlier, according to the Terrestrial-DMB Special Committee. South Korea started the world’s first DMB service in 2005, operated through terrestrial and satellite broadcasts.

According to the committee, which represents six service carriers, 15.4 million terrestrial DMB devices, including mobile phones, were sold as of the end of 2008, up 70% from the previous year. The number of subscribers to the satellite platforms (S-DMB) rose 45% annually to 1.85 million last year.

Telegent Systems announced that it has shipped more than 20 million mobile TV receivers since it launched the products in 2007.

The TV receivers have been rapidly adopted by consumers who want to watch the same TV on their mobiles that they enjoy on their home TVs.

Telegent’s receivers use the existing broadcast infrastructure, and allow consumers to watch local programming.

Telegent’s latest success is a deal with Telefónica Móviles Perú, to bring mobile TV to Telefónica’s ZTE i766 handset.

In order to continue its rapid growth, Telegent is expanding into the PC TV market in 2009 and adopting the digital standard DVB-T.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Mobile TV getting attention again

Nokia N96 with Mobile TV capability (DVB-H) has recently been launched in UK but there is no one broadcasting any Mobile TV. Maybe the operators are hoping that once there are enough handsets with this capability, Mobile TV can be launched and hopefully people will view it.

Last month, Juniper Research released a report likely to strike fear in the hearts of operators betting on consumers' willingness to pay for mobile TV content. In "Opportunities for Streamed & Broadcast Services, 2008-2013," Juniper projects that by 2013 some 330 million people worldwide will have handsets that can receive analog and digital broadcast TV signals — but less than 14 percent of them will sign up for pay mobile TV services.

"The development of terrestrial TV-capable receivers with comparatively low power consumption, and the availability of these receivers in mass market handsets, throws into question the business case for the deployment of a dedicated network in many markets," said report author Dr. Windsor Holden.

In Germany, Mobile 3.0's DVB-H trial flopped when operators started promoting their own TV-capable phones designed to receive DVB-T signals for free — undermining Mobile 3.0’s pay TV business model.

Last July, Toshiba shut down its Japanese satellite mobile TV subsidiary, Mobile Broadcasting, because the subscriber base wasn't big enough to support the business. But it wasn't because the Japanese aren't watching mobile TV. In fact, shipments of handsets able to receive Japan's free 1-seg mobile TV service continue to soar according to the Japan Electronics Information Technology Association — 10 million in the first half of 2008, bringing the total of 1-seg units shipped to 30 million.

Of course, the situation is markedly different in the United States where carriers have a lock on the handsets available to subscribers. And so far, that has effectively stifled competition from devices that can receive free-to-air TV. But with more free-to-air devices hitting the market, it's reasonable to question whether that trend will continue indefinitely.

In another announcement last month, IHT reported that France presented plans to set aside about a fifth of the country's prime television broadcasting spectrum for mobile Internet and television services by the end of 2009, in what supporters described as a major step toward creating a harmonized mobile broadband network in Europe.

France is the first major European country to reserve part of its most valuable broadcasting spectrum, the so-called UHF band, for mobile broadband and video services. Finland and Sweden have also said they plan to reserve the band for mobile services.

If a Europewide broadband network were to come to fruition, its greater scale would probably push down the cost of Internet services to consumers, especially in rural areas not reached by fast, fixed-line networks. It could also enable large mobile operators to sell services, like mobile TV or mobile broadband, across national borders, further increasing competition and lowering consumer prices.

The move was hailed by mobile operators and by the European Union's telecommunications commissioner, Viviane Reding, who is proposing that her office be given a greater role in influencing how EU countries redistribute the frequency.

The French plan, disclosed by Eric Besson, a French state secretary responsible for evaluation of public policies, commits France to reserving 72 megahertz of prime spectrum that is currently being used exclusively by television broadcasters - the 790 MHz to 862 MHz band - for mobile broadband services by the end of next year.

Besson said the country's broadcasters would be able to use the remaining portion of the UHF spectrum - 470 MHz to 790 MHz. He said that would still be enough to support 11 terrestrial broadcasters plus two new mobile TV broadcasters, owned either by mobile operators or TV broadcasters.

Sami said the French plan would most likely influence other European nations to make a similar redistribution. Britain, he said, is also leaning toward devoting a portion of that spectrum, from 806 MHz to 862 MHz, for mobile services.

In Germany, DVB-H licensee Mobile 3.0 handed back its licence to local regulators. The return of the licence was ordered by the authority for private broadcasters - Zulassungs- und Aufsichtskommission für den privaten Rundfunk (ZAK) - because Mobile 3.0 did not meet the conditions of the licence. It is not sure when a new licence will be issued. Meanwhile DVB-T carries on its success with LG planning to launch another handset model before Christmas.

In Switzerland, Take-up of the mobile TV service from Swisscom is not meeting expectations, according to Swisscom Broadcast chief Jean-Paul de Weck, speaking during the Biel Bienne Communication Days (Comdays). The main reason for the slow acceptance is the lack of choice of DVB-H capable handsets. Up until the end of September, the Nokia N77 was the only handset available to receive the service, though now there are four different models. Swisscom currently has about 5,000 mobile TV users, though it expects to gain more subscribers with the wider choice of handsets.

Qualcomm is now to give some more attention to its mobile TV standard of MediaFLO. This is because they no longer have to worry about UMB (see this). Outlining future strategies, Qualcomm indicated it's focusing more on its MediaFLO mobile broadcast TV and its Firethorn mobile banking technologies to carry it in the near term while it develops its Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless infrastructure and its Snapdragon platform for future inroads in wireless mobile. MediaFLO is operated in 62 markets, but it's expected to get a boost in February when the big switchover to digital TV takes place. Qualcomm purchased $555 million worth of spectrum in the FCC's 700-MHz auction earlier this year, and the purchase will be used to spread MediaFLO. The new spectrum will enable the company to address 108 markets by the end of 2009, according to media reports.

Finaly for some good news:

A large U.S. television broadcaster has announced good results from recent trials in Chicago and Denver of mobile TV using a draft standard from the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC). Ion Media Networks, Inc. said it found it relatively easy to set up two mobile channels in each city and reception was better than expected. The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), an alliance of local and national TV broadcasters, hopes to see members roll out commercial mobile TV services late next year. To date mobile TV services using other technologies have failed to deliver and grow a market among cellphone, notebook and car video users.

Ion Media's stations WCPX and KPXC have been multicasting two standard definition mobile channels since August. LG Electronics and Harris Corp., whose technology was selected for the ATSC standard, provided prototype mobile TV receivers and transmission equipment for the tests.

We're seeing fantastic reception out to as far as 40 miles from transmitters, and beyond that we have good transmission outdoors but it's not consistent indoors," reported Jenkins.


Reception was also good in cars at freeway speeds and indoors within 40 miles of transmitters. "We went into parking garages where there were three or four levels of concrete above us, and reception was perfect--that was one of the big technical lessons," said Jenkins.

Spectrum availability was not a problem in the trial. One station in the trial supports an existing high definition terrestrial broadcast, another supports multiple existing standard def channels.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Qualcomm to back MediaFLO at the expense of MBMS

Just couple of days back I was complaining about everyone abandoning MBMS but now I can see why Qualcomm is suddenly uninterested in MBMS:

U.S. mobile technology company Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) said Friday that it acquired an L-band radio spectrum licence for GBP8.3 million that will enable it to bring new mobile TV and wireless services to the U.K.

Qualcomm U.K. Spectrum Ltd bought the licence to use 40 Megahertz of the 1452 MHz to 1492 MHz band in an auction by communications regulator Ofcom.

The licence is suitable for offering mobile television, wireless broadband and satellite radio, Ofcom said.

The L-Band spectrum license acquired by Qualcomm covers the entire United Kingdom and is technology neutral, thereby enabling Qualcomm to use the spectrum for innovative technologies, depending on its assessment of market needs in the United Kingdom.

The L-band, on which any technology or service can be used, will contend with two main rivals, DVB-H, backed by Nokia, the handset maker, and by Viviane Reding, the European Telecoms Commissioner, who wants to make it the European standard, and TDTV, which is being tested by Orange and T-Mobile in the UK. All three technologies would require special handsets able to pick up a broadcast signal.

Mobile companies including Vodafone and 3 already offer mobile television in Britain, but take-up has been poor.

Qualcomm said that it does not intend to run a mobile TV broadcasting network as an operator, as it has done in the United States, but is looking for partners to launch its mobile television technology, MediaFLO.

Andrew Gilbert, head of Qualcomm's European operations, said: “We will not attempt to become an operator, but if service providers want to partner with us ... we are open to talking to folk.” Mr Gilbert added that Qualcomm would use the spectrum to bring a variety of wireless technologies to the UK market but that it had no timetable for launches in mind.

With industry heavyweights supporting DVB-H and TDTV, analysts see this as Qualcomm's last chance to bring MediaFLO to the UK and European markets. Will Harris, of Enders Analysis, said: “One potential outcome from this is that two competing mobile TV services could be launched. While it is too early to say which technology will win at this stage, those that fail to get support from the mobile operators will lose.”

O2, the mobile network provider, was initially interested in the L-band auction, but pulled out without bidding. Failed bidders include WorldSpace, the satellite radio group, and The Joint Radio Company, which runs spectrum for the UK energy industry.

The next competition, to run later this year, is even more significant. It has a price tag that could run into the tens of millions because it is for a frequency that supports WiMax, a high-speed network technology similar to a common WiFi home wireless system, but with a more robust signal and a range of a kilometre or more.

Although WiMax is not new it has had little success so far. But interest is hotting up. In the US last week, Sprint Nextel announced a $14.5bn (£7.4bn) joint venture with Clearwire to build a network servicing as many as 140 million people by the end of 2010. And Google is pumping another $500m into the scheme.

At the moment, the UK market is small. Freedom4 and UK Broadband, a subsidiary of PCCW, are the only providers with a national licence, and only limited services are available. But developments on the other side of the Atlantic are fuelling interest, and some big players are lining up for the relevant spectrum auction. Ian Livingston, who takes over aschief executive at BT in two weeks' time, has said thecompany is interested, and Vodafone has trials running in Malta.

Freedom4 is also already in talks with potential investors about the £100m infrastructure funding it estimates it will need from 2009-11. "We are talkingto our partners and the banks," Mike Read, chief executive of Freedom4, said. "Following the deals in the US, there is moreinterest in what we are doing over here."

Ian Keene, a senior analyst at Gartner, said: "There is abusiness case for WiMax in the UK, but most likely it will becity-centric and focused on business, rather than nationalcoverage competing with mobile networks."

The biggest auction of all will be next year's bidding for the "digital dividend" – the wide bands of frequency freed up when the analogue television signal is switched off in 2012. The debate about who should get what is already well under way. Broadcasters claim a substantial portion for high-definition TV, mobile operators want it for next-generation cellular services such as video, and internet service providers say it iscrucial for the broadbandinfrastructure.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Qualcomm shows off MediaFLO Mobile TV


Qualcomm Incorporated, a leading developer and innovator of advanced wireless technologies and data solutions, today unveiled the first-ever MediaFLO™ technology demonstration broadcast over the air to an in-vehicle entertainment system. The innovative mobile TV demonstration shows the flexibility of the MediaFLO platform as well as the exciting and unique delivery methods it can enable in a wide variety of scenarios.

The in-vehicle demonstration features a sport-utility vehicle outfitted with two rear headrest television screens with VGA resolution. The MediaFLO receiver, integrated in the rear center console, will receive live streaming television broadcasts on the MediaFLO platform at QVGA resolution. The center console controllerallows users to launch the electronic channel guide, change channels and access optional features of the MediaFLO System.

The MediaFLO in-vehicle demonstration can be seen at the MediaFLO booth (Central Hall, #C2946) at the National Associated of Broadcasters (NAB) show, April 14 - 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada.


MediaFLO enables a rich mobile multimedia experience comprising high-quality video, audio, data and interactiveservices. Since the MediaFLO platform employs a dedicated mobile broadcast network, it does not require direct line-of-sight, unlike satellite-based TV transmissions, and video quality and signal strength won’t be compromised in crowded metropolitan areas. Furthermore, the platform has been designed for superior mobile reception and can operate efficiently under normal driving conditions on roads and freeways.

MediaFLO is a mobile broadcast platform for the delivery of high-quality entertainment and information, including streaming video and audio, Clipcasting™ media, IP datacasting and interactive services. FLO™ is an open, globally recognized air interface technology standardized by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and recommended by ITU-R for the broadcasting of multimedia and data applications. Invented for mobility, MediaFLO is designed to increase capacity and coverage, as well as reduce costs for multimedia content delivery to mobile devices. More information about MediaFLO is available at www.mediaflo.com.

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