Qualcomm to Spend $800m on Video to Mobile Network

As if the cell phone was not already overburdened with cameras, music and video players and handheld computers, Qualcomm now want to add TV programs to the mix.

Qualcomm, the San Diego developer of wireless technology and maker of computer chips for cell phones have spotted a gap in the market that might increase sales of their chips. They have just announced plans for a subsidiary, MediaFLO USA Inc to deploy and operate a nationwide “mediacast” network, delivering high-quality video and audio programming to third-generation mobile phones at mass market prices in co-operation with US cellular operators.

QUALCOMM intends to offer the network as a shared resource for US CDMA2000 and WCDMA (UMTS) cellular operators, enabling them to deliver mobile interactive multimedia to their wireless subscribers without the cost of network deployment and operation. Content will be delivered to mobile devices in the 700 MHz spectrum that will enable the network to serve the whole country. It will be based on QUALCOMM’s FLO (Forward Link Only) technology, and will use the MediaFLO media distribution system for content aggregation, delivery and viewing.

The chain of events happens like this – MediaFLO will deliver news, sports or entertainment programs over the new ‘mediacast’, high-speed cell phone network to US wireless companies, who will in turn pay for the service beginning in 2006.

Supporting 50-100 national and local content channels, including up to 15 live streaming channels, this system will give TV stations and networks, cable TV and satellite operators and networks a major new distribution channel, enabling them to reach their audiences when they are away from home and on the go. Content will be delivered in an easy-to-use and familiar format at quality levels that dramatically surpass current mobile multimedia offerings through the use of QVGA video at up to 30 frames per second and high-quality stereo audio.

Dr Paul E. Jacobs, president of QUALCOMM Wireless and Internet Group sees this move as “the logical next step in the evolution of the wireless industry.” The network will cost US$800 million over the next four to five years.

It may not take on in Europe though. Only yesterday we learned from Jupiter Research that Europeans are less taken with the multi-functional gadgets.