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Sunday, 06 November 2005 13:36

More major players go with Qualcomm's FLO

Nine more companies have joined the FLO Forum, an association set up in July 2005 to promote a Qualcomm developed technology that uses cellular technology for digital video broadcasting to handhelds.

The new Forum members South Korea's EBS, KT Freetel, MSYS and Samsung Electronics, US-based Ktech Telecom and Newport Media, Germany's Rohde & Schwarz and France's Streamezzo and Teamcast. They join Amoi, BBEF, Harris Corporation, Huawei, Korea Telecom, Kyocera, LG Electronics, LG Telecom, MediaFLO USA, Pantech & Curitel, Qualcomm, Roundbox, Sanyo, Sharp and ZTE.

FLO Forum president, Kamil Grajski, claimed that: "The growth of the FLO Forum is emblematic of the way that FLO technology is capturing the imagination of the wireless world. We look forward to contributions these new members will bring to the many active FLO Forum subcommittees."

Since its formation, the Forum has created a technical committee structure to oversee work on service and technical requirements, the FLO air interface specification, and corresponding performance and certification specifications for FLO-based products and services. The Forum's members have finalised committee charters and objectives and reviewed initial technical submissions from member companies.

FLO is an invention of CDMA pioneer, Qualcomm, which unveiled it in October 2004 along with 1xEV-DO Platinum Multicast, describing both as "multicast innovations designed to increase the capacity and reduce the cost of delivering video, audio and other content to large numbers of users simultaneously."

FLO is being positioned as an alternative to DVB-H, now on trial in Sydney, and can operate on CDMA200, 1x EV-DO and WCDMA networks. According to Qualcomm, "compared to other multicast technologies, FLO technology is designed specifically for use in mobile devices where low battery power consumption is critical, enabling it to offer superior mobility, power efficiency and coverage characteristics - considerations that are fundamental to the mobile handheld consumer usage environment."

Complementary to these technologies is Qualcomm's MediaFLO content distribution system, announced in March 2004. It is designed to make intelligent decisions about when to send content over a network made up of any number of different wireless technologies, including FLO and EV-DO Platinum Multicast. "In particular, the MediaFLO system allows operators to transmit unicast or multicast content over their cellular networks and seamlessly combine it with multicast content transmitted using the FLO technology," Qualcomm says.

In addition to developing the technology, Qualcomm is building a US-wide network that would use FLO and spectrum in the 700MHz band to distribute content to handhelds. Capacity on the network, which is due for completion in 2006, will be resold to cellular operators and Qualcomm says it will enable them to "beam music and video to several types of 3G (third-generation) handsets, including CDMA2000-1x, 1xEV-DO (Evolution-Data Only) and WCDMA."

The MediaFLO network will be able to support between 50 and 100 channels of national and local content, including as many as 15 live streaming channels in addition to ones featuring video clips and audio. Qualcomm says it expects to beat current mobile multimedia quality, offering audio in stereo and video in QVGA (Quarter Video Graphics Array) format at 30 frames per second. The network will cost an estimate $US800 million and is scheduled to be operational in 2006.

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