Qualcomm is committed to launching mobile TV in the UK. That was one of the clear messages from today’s IQ2010 event, hosted by Qualcomm at the Science Museum in London.
Mark Bridge was there for The Fonecast. He spoke to Melanie Honnor, Business Development Director for MediaFLO in the UK, and started off by asking her the obvious question: exactly what is MediaFLO?
She explained “MediaFLO is a broadcast technology that will allow media of any type to be delivered directly to your phone. It’s a separate network from 3G; it’s dedicated broadcast technology that Qualcomm has developed.”
Qualcomm believes the way mobile consumers access media in the future will need to change. MediaFlo is intended to help mobile operators manage traffic over their networks and develop a better media experience for consumers.
It’s big business in the USA, with Qualcomm owning spectrum, running its own network for mobile TV, providing content and even selling mobile TV devices. Here in the UK, we have none of that. “What’s gone wrong?”, we asked Melanie.
“It’s not gone wrong – quite the opposite. We own 40MHz of L-band spectrum which we purchased two years ago and we’re planning on using that to deliver the service. That’s a huge coup for us because it means when we get the right parties involved and get the right service ready to launch, we can go straight to market.”
Unlike the US model, Qualcomm’s European plans involve creating MFSOs – MediaFLO Service Operators – which are joint ventures with Qualcomm as the technology provider working alongside mobile operators and content providers.
Melanie also dismissed rumours about Qualcomm possibly selling MediaFLO. I asked her whether she thought MediaFLO would remain within Qualcomm, at least in the short term.
“Without a doubt”, she replied. “The discussions around that have not been any different to discussions that Qualcomm has been in since the launch of the service.”
Finally, we asked whether there'd be MediaFLO mobile TV in the UK for the London 2012 Olympics.
“I certainly hope we will! One of the strengths of MediaFLO is that we know the technology works, we’ve deployed it already and we have a plan to deploy it; because we have the spectrum, we’re ready to go. We have it certainly within our sights to get it deployed around the Olympics and use that as an opportunity. We realise that sports will be critical for the adoption of mobile media consumption. Past experiences that people have had with sporting events over 3G networks have been disappointing. The right technology hasn’t arrived yet; once we get that technology in place, I think their minds will be changed.”
Mark's full interview with Melanie Honnor – which covered a variety of mobile TV topics, including the EC’s preference for the rival DVB-H standard – will be available to download next week. There’ll also be more coverage of IQ2010 in next week’s edition of The Fonecast, which will be available to download on Wednesday 15th September 2010.