TV arriving on mobile handsets

Despite the draw of huge TV screens and high definition, there is growing interest in showing made-for-television movies, news and other features on much smaller screens: cell phones and mobile players. Qualcomm and Modeo are two companies moving rapidly into this arena.

Qualcomm’s technology is called MediaFLO and transmits on UHF TV channel 55. The company said it would provide 20 channels of video, 10 music channels and PVR-like storage in a handheld cell phone or mobile device.

Modeo is a consortium that includes Nokia, Intel, Microsoft and Texas Instruments. This service will be based on DVB-H technology and is scheduled to launch later this year.

MobiTV is currently the leading mobile service and is located in Berkley, CA. The said has ½-million customers, each paying $10 a month. For that fee, the subscriber has access to 20 video channels, including FOX Sports, Discovery and MSNBC. The service streams through Verizon and Sprint cell phones.

Modeo will use the existing network of Crown Castle International towers and L spectrum. Initial rollout is scheduled for 30 U.S. cities.

MediaFLO relies on standard TV transmitter technology and broadcast towers. Qualcomm plans to initially launch this service in about half of Verizon’s markets.

All of these companies will need video and audio control centers. SystemS integrators would be wise to consult with these upstart companies. While the previous plans have been slow, it is about to become a race with lots of money changing hands quite rapidly.

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