India ready for Media Flo?
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India ready for Media Flo?

Mobile entertainment is the next wave of disruptive technology that is taking up the mindspace of the mobility industry.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 02:03 IST

Mobile entertainment is the next wave of disruptive technology that is taking up the mindspace of the mobility industry. At the CTIA Wireless 2006 show here, just as at the recent Barcelona GSM conclave, mobile TV is something that has everyone in a thrall.

Jeff Jacobs, President (Global Development) of chipset manufacturer Qualcomm outlined his company’s priorities when he told Hindustan Times, “Ultimately the battle is between the cellphone and the PC. Home lifestyle-versus-office lifestyle is going to be the dominant theme going forward and we have to position ourselves adequately for this transition.”

Computing and communicationis slowlybut surely being replaced by entertainment and communication. With India being seen as the last frontier in mobile communication, global telecoms heavies have realised that it is hugely entertainment conscious. To plug and play in that environment, mobile TV providing television interface is being touted as the next big thing. For this, an ecosystem needs to be developed, using a consortium of operators, entertainment broadcasters, content aggregators and the government infrastructure in India. This, many reckon, is the next level of competency. It is believed that Qualcomm is acting as the facilitator for creating a consortium of like-minded people in India who together can create a consortium to provide theMedia Flo mobile TVexperience. With six prominent manufacturers like LG, Samsung, Kyocera et al buying in to the mobile TV play, the rollout in the USis on the anvil in the medium term.

India may take slightly longer as the Indian CDMAoperators Reliance Communications and Tata Tele in conjunction with multimedia operators and broadcasters will have to build a robust consortium in conjunction with the state broadacster’s infrastructural backing to roll out the service.Another positive about Media Flo is that it also allows the easy usage of data casting. However, issues relating to spectrum usage and battery life will also need to be resolved.

A couple of years ago, Qualcomm took the lead in the US by purchasing nationwide spectrum for $38 million in a FCC auction (plus forking out another $15 odd million in a private deal). Buying 6 mhz on a single UHF channel, it jumpstarted the big idea — a digital cable network using existing TV towers. It then began to aggregate content and started building test handsets for what it called Media Flo technology. Media Flo is now ready in the US, offering 30 frames per second of a compelling sports, entertainment and music video experience.

As Paul Jacobs, MD of Qualcomm, explained, “We are targeting a full-fledged launch of Media Flo in half of Verizon’s EVDO networks by the end of this year in the US. While Verizon will determine the exact launch date, we will have the network ready and willing around the same time. Similarly, we are in a dialogue with a Japanese service operator and we might have a breakthrough there as well.” Qualcomm is betting big on Media Flo or its version of mobile TV, and is expected to spend around $800 million in the US to roll out this technology.

First Published: Apr 08, 2006 02:03 IST