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Qualcomm descrambles mobile TV

Qualcomm moved to unify three of the leading mobile TV technologies in a single device this week, with the news that its Universal Broadcast Modem (UBM) chip is sampling ahead of schedule.

Mobile TV has made its appearance as one of the most gripping topics at 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona this year and the announcement by Qualcomm could go some way to alleviating fears that the mobile TV market will be come fragmented by the rash of technologies competing for dominance.

The UBM product delivers support for Qualcomm’s own FLO technology, DVB-H and ISDB-T, also known as 1seg, in a single chip.

Early sampling of the product accelerates the delivery of mobile TV capabilities to mass market handsets around the world, the US CDMA player said.

William Davidson, vice president of global marketing and investor relations at Qualcomm, told the Show Daily that the company is aiming to make the UBM chipset “competitive to DVB-H” and is aiming for a price point of $10 to $20.

Davidson said that Qualcomm saw clear opportunities in the mobile TV market, regardless of the number of standards. However the company is still backing its own horse.

FLO received yet more support from the operator and service provider communities this week.

UK broadcaster, British Sky Broadcasting Limited (BSkyB), this week announced the successful completion of a second joint technical trial of the MediaFLO System in the UK. This second technical trial, conducted in Manchester during winter 2006, featured BSkyB content delivered to non-commercial devices from Qualcomm. The trial followed a similar test held in Cambridge, in the summer of 2006.

Over in the US, AT&T has signed up to deliver mobile entertainment and information services via Qualcomm’s MediaFLO network.

AT&T will launch the mobile TV services from MediaFLO USA on phones specifically designed for live mobile TV. Additionally, AT&T will have access to advanced features MediaFLO USA expects to launch in the second half of 2007.

MediaFLO USA has an existing agreement with Verizon Wireless, which launched a mobile TV service based on the FLO platform in January.

Meanwhile in Japan, both KDDI and Softbank have announced their intent to explore the possibility for nationwide deployment of MediaFLO services.

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