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Qualcomm said at a briefing attended by Alan Reiter recently that they had bought the rights to UHF channel 55 for their MediaFLO service in the U.S.: The service will allow cell operators to offload push-media—streaming TV, audio, and targeted data—to spectrum other than that scarce and expensive stuff they use for voice calls. It also ties the operators directly to Qualcomm, which will control that spectrum, and which should make some carriers slightly nervous. No knock on Qualcomm, but any single vendor solution outside the control of an operator that combines hardware, software, patents, and spectrum should cause cold sweats.
Now, I linked to Alan’s May 31 report before, but he queried Qualcomm about how they’d get clearance to channel 55, given that the channel was still in use by some stations around the country. This is a quandary faced by all those companies that won currently occupied UHF spectrum for future data services.
Alan graciously is allowing me to write up what Qualcomm told him, as I prompted his questions. Qualcomm told him that while they won’t speak specifically about regions in which the channels are occupied—as they are negotiating to clear spectrum in each market—they have a deadline now set by Congress of Feb. 17, 2009, in which all broadcasts in those bands must halt.
Qualcomm did say that because it’s a matter of public record, they could point to agreements with specific stations, including WLNY (Riverhead, New York), WACX (Leesburg, Florida), and KWDK (Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.), among others.
They’re planning to launch access after 2006 regardless of whether they have the entire country cleared, and regardless of some action they’re looking for on interference from adjacent UHF channels that are still in operation in some markets (54 and 56).
Posted by Glennf at June 9, 2006 1:42 PM