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Cingular/AT&T Goes With The FLO

2/13/2007 08:59:00 AM Eastern

San Diego — Cingular Wireless has joined rival Verizon Wireless in adopting Qualcomm’s MediaFLO technology and content for its mobile TV service, which it expects to launch in late 2007 following Verizon’s previously announced first-quarter launch.

Cingular wouldn’t reveal too many details, but it said its MediaFLO-equipped phones will be Cingular exclusives. The carrier also said MediaFLO will supply two channels dedicated to Cingular customers.

Verizon’s Mobile TV service will launch with seven 24/7 TV channels in 20 to 30 major U.S. markets in the first quarter along with a phone apiece from Samsung and LG, said Gina Lombardi, president of Qualcomm’s MediaFLO company. The seven channels that MediaFLO will offer to Verizon will be a basic package available to all cellular carriers, who can then pick and choose additional channels to offer as additional content becomes available, Lombardi said.

When Cingular launches, MediaFLO will also be able to provide the carrier with data casting services, such as stock prices and sports scores, as well as MediaFLO’s first audio services, which could include sports radio, Lombardi said.

The MediaFLO service will complement rather than compete with carriers’ cellular band audio and video services, Lombardi noted. MediaFLO, for example, will offer live broadcasts of cable- and broadcast-network content at the same time that the programs are delivered to TVs, and some of the programs will be repeated the next day for people who might have missed “The Tonight Show” at home.

In addition, MediaFLO will deliver better picture quality than existing cellular-band video services because it doesn’t use bandwidth-constricted cellular airwaves, instead using UHF channel-55 spectrum.

MediaFLO’s content partners to date include CBS, Comedy Central, FOX, MTV, NBC News, NBC Entertainment, Nickelodeon and ESPN .

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