Crown Castle sheds Modeo mobile TV service

The cell-tower owner is leasing the Modeo spectrum for $13 million a year.
Would-be live mobile TV provider Modeo used this prototype handset as part of a New York City beta trial of the service.

Crown Castle International has dropped its mobile TV venture Modeo, leasing its spectrum to a joint equity venture between Telecom Ventures and Columbia Capital under a six-year, $13 million-per-year deal.

It has been speculated that Modeo, which would have offered live mobile TV using DVB-H, had apparently failed to line up a deal with a wireless carrier that would have helped it take the service to the mass market. It was also facing stiff competition from MediaFLO, which has already inked deals with two of the United States’ largest wireless carriers, Verizon Wireless and AT&T, to distribute live mobile TV using its proprietary technology.

Representatives of Crown Castle did not return phone calls asking for comment on the sale by press time.

As part of the sale, Crown Castle is leasing the 1670MHz-1675MHz spectrum that it used for a highly publicized beta trial of the Modeo service in New York City, which took place during the first half of this year. It has already transferred assets related to the trial to the Telecom Ventures/Columbia Capital venture, which has not commented publicly on how the spectrum or assets will be used.

The Modeo service had been under development for more than three years when the company announced the New York City trial in January. It delivered six channels of live programming from such networks as Discovery Channel and Fox over the 1670MHz-1675MHz spectrum using DVB-H, an in-band mobile video and data delivery technology.

The last month has been particularly brutal for upstart mobile TV companies. Amp’d Mobile has ceased operations because of bankruptcy, (see Prexar Mobile to buy Amp’d Mobile’s assets), while BT announced recently it would shut down its UK-based Movio mobile TV service. BT Movio, which had been operating for less than a year using Virgin Mobile’s DAB-based combined TV and radio service, was apparently having trouble reaching sales goals.

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