San Diego: U.S wireless technology company Qualcomm is rolling a new-age version of old-time broadcast television onto what analysts say is an unpredictable but inevitable mobile TV landscape.
The California firm’s MediaFLO subsidiary has spent an undisclosed fortune and about three years building a digital broadcasting network and partnerships with television studios, mobile phone service carriers, and handset makers.
Even though a government-mandated shift from analogue to digital television signals won’t take place until February, MediaFLO already broadcasts mobile television in more than 50 U.S metropolitan areas.
MediaFLO senior director Cullen Childress said, “We want TV in mobile telephones to be as common as cameras in telephones.”
Qualcomm bought a television channel frequency several years ago and added a portion of the 700 MHz spectrum during an historic auction in April by the U.S Federal Communications Commission.
How does it work?
MediaFLO began television broadcasts to Verizon mobile telephones a year ago and recently made a deal with AT&T to do the same for its subscribers.
Unlike television programmes sent to mobile telephones via individualized Internet connections, MediaFLO broadcasts can be picked up in a fashion similar to the way rabbit-ear TV antennas receive analogue signals. “It’s a portable version of your home TV,” explained MediaFLO product management vice president Mike Coad.
MediaFLO currently provides 10 television channels for mobile viewing and subscription to the service costs at the rate of $15 a month.
While MediaFLO offers all-you-can eat programming, people seem happy with a “snack” model that lets them download select shows online and watch them when they choose, said Telecom Media and Finance Associates president Tim Farrar. “The question is really to what degree people have a desire to consume a lot of mobile TV,” Farrar told AFP.
Handheld devices built exclusively for broadcast television viewing make more sense for ad-supported programmes because telecom carriers are eliminated from the equation, Chamberlain said.
Revenue and advertising models being developed
Advertising-based mobile television is feasible, as long as a large portion of telecom customers watch shows, analysts say. Meanwhile, mobile television services in Japan and South Korea, where deployment of the technology is far ahead of the United States, report paltry adoption rates.
Qualcomm makes computer chips crafted to receive television broadcasts in multiple signal formats and is hustling to make them standard components in mobile telephones. MediaFLO believes that if television-capable mobile phones are ubiquitous, users will yield to the temptation and then it will be a matter of figuring out what pricing models are best for business.
MediaFLO is dabbling with allowing broadcasts to be routed to home televisions, computers, and systems built into vehicles. Major electronics makers LG and Samsung recently announced they are backing the association’s format.
Even if faster wireless Internet services promised in the U,S increase the popularity of mobile video from websites such as YouTube and Hulu, the broadcast television model is expected to endure.