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Qualcomm looks to success in Japan, UK

28 September 2006

The success of the FLO Forum has helped Qualcomm beat off the ‘proprietary’ charges it faced earlier (writes George Jarrett), and Jeffery Brown, director of international business development, added to this impact with his assurance at IBC, “We want to open up and standardise all applications of our MediaFLO technology.”

Brown relates all strategies back to the Qualcomm network launching in the US before Christmas. “It has been built out for roughly two years, and by the end of 2006 we will have access to roughly 100 million of the wireless, addressable population, ” he said. “The reason for MediaFLO USA is that it guarantees the availability of phones. It’s our catalyst.”

Qualcomm has a live system running at Cambridge in the UK with Sky, where it is being tested in trials against DVB-H. “Sky already believes in the success of MTV. It knows it will work, so it proposes to validate financial planning assumptions for building out a nationwide network,” said Brown.

Asked about the impact of China’s new standard (DMB-TH), Brown said at IBC, “It’s too early to tell. For every new kind of technology the Chinese government always tries to create some sort of home brand technology. I’ve never seen so much fragmentation and confusion in the mainland market. It is not clear in what direction things will go,” he added.

Qualcomm has clear plans elsewhere. “The fourth quarter will be massive for us,” said Brown. “We will have the network, the big UK initiative with Sky, and our joint venture with KDDI in Japan.

“The ownership split is 20/80. For us Japan is probably going to be our second largest market. KDDI will build a nationwide MediaFLO network,” he added.

Before it does, it will have to lobby for the spectrum. Qualcomm will also target the L-Band auction in the UK. “The UK opportunity is too great to wait until 2012 for the analogue switch off,” said Brown. “We feel that success in three of the top five economies is crucial. It creates an attractive set of market opportunities for third party vendors and it drives lower prices via volume.”

Qualcomm’s live system is running 10 simulcast channels. “I believe that the linear broadcast is the initial hook to get consumers interested,” said Brown. “They expect to se a high quality type of TV experience, and they expect very fast channel changing.”

The handset is a prototype, but eight manufacturers will be integrating MediaFLO chip sets into their handsets. “TV is the hook, but in reality mobile broadcasting is a suite of services, including data and clip casting,” said Brown. “Users will get a Sky+ box in their hands. It’s a PVR that’s with you wherever you go.”

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