The battle between two rival standards for delivering television to mobile phones heated up on Monday with announcements by Qualcomm, the chipmaker, and Nokia, the handset maker.
San Diego-based Qualcomm said it had signed an agreement to deliver mobile entertainment and information services to AT&T (formerly Cingular) in the US, using its MediaFLO television technology.
The deal means Qualcomm has won the support of the two biggest US carriers for its technology – it signed up Verizon Wireless in December 2005.
Nokia supports the open DVB-H standard for mobile TV and announced a handset based on this at the 3GSM mobile conference in Barcelona. The Nokia N77 will be available in the second quarter in Europe, where DVB-H has won the greatest acceptance.
Qualcomm maintains its proprietary MediaFLO technology is superior to DVB-H.
“It gives fast channel switching, you are basically holding a remote control in your hand,” Gina Lombardi, president of MediaFLO USA, told the Financial Times.
“The picture quality and the battery life is also great – this was designed for mobility from the ground up, whereas DVB-H has morphed into that.”
However, Frost & Sullivan, the research firm, predicted this month that the DVB-H market would grow from $60m in 2006 to $2bn in 2010, with it offering a better delivery system for video than other technologies.
Qualcomm announced a chip on Monday that supported both MediaFLO and DVB-H, as well as the lesser known ISDB-T standard.
The chipmaker also said it had successfully completed a second set of technical trials for MediaFLO with BSkyB, the broadcaster, in Manchester.
While Qualcomm pushes its solution in the UK and Japan, the chipmaker faces competition at home where rivals Crown Castle and Hiwire are building DVB-H networks.
Verizon is due to launch its V CAST Mobile TV service in the current quarter on the MediaFLO network, while AT&T’s service is expected to be available in late 2007.