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Qualcomm To Sell FLO TV Spectrum To AT&T

12/20/2010 12:25:02 PM Eastern
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.
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