San Diego - Qualcomm will sell of its nationwide 700MHz FLO TV
spectrum to AT&T for $1.925 billion and expects in March 2011 to shut off its
white-label FLO TV service to carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
The carriers resell the service under their own brands to owners
of cellphones equipped with FLO TV tuners.
For its part, AT&T said it would use its newfound spectrum to
boost the downlink capacity of its planned 700MHz 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution)
network. In the spectrum, AT&T will implement new carrier-aggregation
technology that enables unpaired spectrum bands to be used in conjunction with
existing paired bands. AT&T said it expects to begin deploying the spectrum
once compatible handsets and network equipment are developed.
The FLO TV spectrum, previously used by analog-TV channels 55 and
56, covers more than 300 million people total nationwide.
Qualcomm will include carrier aggregation technology in future
chipsets and will market them around the world, the company said. Qualcomm also
plans to develop LTE multicast technologies specifically to deliver
high-bandwidth video and other multimedia content.
Qualcomm expects the sale to close in the second half of 2011
following approvals by the Federal Communications Commission and U.S.
Department of Justice.
Earlier this month, FLO TV specified a
cutoff date of March 27, 2011, for its direct-to-consumer FLO TV service,
having previously cited a spring cutoff. The specific cut-off date was included
in an announcement that consumers who bought products that receive the
direct-to-consumer service would get a full refund. The products consist of the
handheld Personal TV, FLO-equipped portable DVD player from Audiovox, and
Audiovox- and Jensen-branded in-car FLO TV tuners.
In October, FLO TV announced
it would shut off its direct-to-consumer service because of the slow adoption
pace and the high cost of marketing, customer service, product development and
customer acquisition. At that time, FLO TV said it had made no decisions about
the future of FLO TV's white-label service.