Qualcomm announces plans for UHF Ch. 55

Qualcomm, the mobile technology specialist, is one of those companies wondering if the DTV transition will ever end. It is anxious to use UHF Ch. 55 for its nationwide mediacast network, an enterprise that plans to launch multiple channels of video and audio to third generation mobile phones.

To jumpstart the new service, Qualcomm has already begun negotiating with broadcasters occupying Ch. 55 to give up the spectrum early. Qualcomm’s first agreements are with the owners of WACX-TV in Orlando, and KWDK-TV in Tacoma, WA. The confidential agreements are said to be contingent on the current owners winning FCC permission to stop broadcasting on Ch. 55 and to operate digital-only on Ch. 40 in Orlando and Ch. 42 in Tacoma.

Qualcomm created a subsidiary called MediaFLO after paying the federal government $38 million in an auction last summer for future nationwide rights to channel 55. However, it can’t use the spectrum in areas where a broadcaster still occupies the spectrum or where it would cause interference with stations on adjacent channels.

The name MediaFLO is derived from Qualcomm’s Forward Link Only (FLO) technology for content aggregation, delivery and viewing. The network will support 50-100 national and local content channels using the 700MHz spectrum, including up to 15 live streaming channels and numerous clip-cast and audio channels.

This 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 30fps and high-quality stereo audio.

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