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Qualcomm TV station surrenders analog spectrum for mobile video service

Qualcomm has won FCC approval to allow its WLNY-TV station in Riverhead, NY, to turn off its analog service early and begin life as a digital-only station. At the same time, the move allows Qualcomm to use the analog spectrum on channel 55 to launch its MediaFLO USA video service to wireless phones in the station’s coverage area.

Qualcomm bought WLNY’s channel 55 in a government auction with the intent to reclaim the analog spectrum for MediaFLO after the switch to digital. The FCC’s action allows station to flash-cut to digital-only broadcasts. It becomes the second station allowed to turn off one of its signals before the end of the transition.

According to WLNY, its analog service reaches 3,855,201 persons within a 5502sq km area, and its current WLNY-DT STA service reaches 3,104,183 persons within a 4652sq km area. Although WLNY, as a licensee with two out-of-core channels, is under no obligation to build its maximized DTV facility, it pledged to do so within 12 months after finality of the grant of its band-clearing request, which will result in service to 5,081,440 persons within a 7270sq km area. In addition, no areas or populations will lose service from WLNY-DT from the result of this conversion to its maximized facility.

The FCC said last week that even though the station is technically the only one licensed to Riverhead, NY, that the effect of dropping its analog signal will be “imperceptible” given the 92.2 percent cable penetration of the DMA and that it is moving out to help speed the transition to digital.

Prior to discontinuing analog service and surrendering its NTSC license, the FCC said it expected WLNY to supply all cable systems carrying its digital signal with the conversion equipment necessary to translate WLNY-DT’s signal to an analog signal.

The commission noted the action will allow Qualcomm to deploy and operate a network to offer a mediacast service that delivers many channels of multimedia content to third generation wireless phones, using forward link only (FLO) technology developed by the company.

Qualcomm anticipates that MediaFLO network service will initially provide up to 15 live streaming video program channels, numerous video clip cast channels in which subscribers can choose video clips to watch, and numerous audio channels. The company also intends that the network will also carry local programming and core public interest program content such as breaking news, weather, and public affairs, as well as maintain network capability to disseminate emergency alert information, in both visual, including textual, and auditory form.

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