Verizon to offer high-quality mobile TV

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Verizon Wireless, the second-largest US mobile carrier by subscribers, said it would begin delivering high-quality, TV-style video content to subscribers using a new network and service called MediaFlo under construction by Qualcomm, a US-based mobile chip developer.

The US carrier, which has built its existing wireless network using Qualcomm?s CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology, is the first US carrier to commit to the MediaFlo network ? designed to offer wireless carriers a relatively low-cost way to deliver high-quality video services to subscribers.

?MediaFlo USA?s network will allow us to provide compelling real-time multimedia services to wireless customers,? said John Stratton, Verizon Wireless?s chief marketing officer. The joint venture between Verizon and Britain?s Vodafone group is clearly hoping that by adopting MediaFlo it can leapfrog its rivals in the deployment of mobile TV ? one of the hottest emerging markets in the US and Europe.

The decision also represents a significant boost for Qualcomm, which has invested heavily in the MediaFlo technology, and has acquired the radio spectrum required to deploy it through its MediaFlo USA unit.

It could, however, signal the start of a standards battle between MediaFlo and a rival multicasting technology called DVB-H backed by Nokia and others. In the US, Crown Castle, a cell tower operator, and Nokia have been building a network based on the technology.

Qualcomm and Verizon Wireless said they initially planned to launch mobile TV services over the MediaFlo network in about half the markets already covered by Verizon Wireless?s EV-DO broadband network.

?Using the MediaFlo technology and network, Verizon Wireless will be able to offer its customers a real-time TV-like experience on their wireless phones unlike anything available on the market today,? said Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm?s chief executive.

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