FLO TV is Qualcomm’s mobile television service, which it provides under branded names for AT&T and Verizon, as well as directly to consumers. The service essentially provides cable TV content delivered by cell phone services. According to statements by the company CEO reported by Light Reading Mobile, the company is willing to maintain the role of service provider, but the main goal is to promote their MediaFLO technology that is behind the service.
Qualcomm is in the business of making chips for cell phones and other portable wireless devices, so it really is not a great match for it to be in the video broadcast business as well. The company has struggled with the chicken-and-egg problem, as there are not enough devices out there that can use the service, so there aren’t enough subscriptions to make it go. Eventually, the technology could be used for a variety of data distribution services and not just video, but that is slow in developing.
Qualcomm bought wireless bandwidth in the federal auctions associated with the switch to digital TV broadcasts, and is in a position to offload some of the strain experienced by the cell carriers’ data networks. Since it’s a broadcast system instead of point-to-point, the MediaFLO approach uses the same amount of bandwidth whether one or 1,000 phones are receiving the signal, which is not the case for cell phone data systems. On the other hand, it must compete with the new Mobile DTV service from existing television broadcasters.
The FLO TV service is currently available in 110 U.S. cities, but still is underperforming. According to the article, Qualcomm is willing to continue to operate the service but is open to offers from prospective buyers.