Qualcomm shutters FLO TV, may use technology to mitigate wireless data traffic

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) confirmed reports it will shut down its struggling FLO TV mobile broadcast business and said it was in talks with a variety of partners to explore strategic options for the service and its wireless spectrum.

"We are seeing strong interest in using the FLO TV network or spectrum to capitalize on the growing imbalance between mobile data supply and demand, the growth of tablets, and consumer demand for high quality video and print content, and a richer user experience," the company stated.  

Qualcomm recently indicated that it was looking at using MediaFLO technology for data casting, meaning the technology could offload regular network traffic and reduce network congestion--one of the key issues network operators are grappling with. Qualcomm is studying MediaFLO's usefulness in maintaining cached data on mobile devices. That means a smartphone or tablet itself could reduce the amount of data traffic it needs, and therefore cutting costs and network use. Such a capability would also speed up browsing and a more efficient way of sharing frequently updated cache with multiple devices.

Qualcomm is stopping direct-to-consumer sales of the FLO TV service but will continue to deliver programming to subscribers through the spring of 2011. FLO TV features simulcast and time-shifted broadcast content from partners including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN, MTV and CNN. Subscriber numbers are unknown.

Initially available only in limited markets, FLO TV went nationwide in mid-2009 in conjunction with U.S. broadcasters' long-planned transition from analog to digital, which freed up the necessary spectrum. Qualcomm reportedly spent $683 million acquiring the spectrum to run FLO TV.

Qualcomm first acknowledged plans to divest FLO TV in late July. Qualcomm chairman and CEO Paul Jacobs said at the time the company was exploring "a number of alternatives" for the unit, including discussions with prospective partners. At the company's Uplinq 2010 developer conference in San Diego a few weeks prior, Jacobs explained it was never Qualcomm's intention to become the service provider operating the FLO TV network.

For more:
- read this release

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