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12/20/2005
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ABI Plays Grinch in 2006 Tech Predictions, Says Failures Loom

In making bold and not-so-cheerful predictions about technology in 2006, ABI Research said Tuesday that several industries from satellite radio to mobile video to in-flight airline communications wouldn't materialize successfully next year.

In making bold and not-so-cheerful predictions about technology in 2006, ABI Research said Tuesday that several industries from satellite radio to mobile video to in-flight airline communications wouldn't materialize successfully next year.

The satellite radio industry will not launch a successful video product, ABI said.

Nether Sirius nor XM will have successful launch video products, they said.

"Bandwidth will limit the satellite radio providers to just a handful of low quality channels, while cellular operators offer larger content libraries on-demand, and Apple Computer continue it's foray into video podcasting," the report said.

Broadcast mobile video won't be widely available in 2006 within the United States, the researchers opined.

Major operators with a 3G network rolled out services in 2005, offering everything from sports clips to music videos. The problem is the one-to-five minute video clips are streamed or downloaded via a technology known as unicast, which ABI Research believes is an inefficient delivery method that uses valuable cellular bandwidth. Multicast networks are required to support this delivery.

Two competing multicast networks are separately being developed from MediaFLO, and Crown Castle Mobile Media, that could solve this problem. But they won't become available until late 2006 in at least 30 of the top U.S. markets.

Whether compatible handsets for the multicast network will be available in 2006 is also in question, ABI Research said. Earlier this year, Qualcomm said it made MediaFLO chipsets available to handset manufacturers. Several handset manufactures -- such as Nokia and Samsung -- have worked with Crown Castle Mobile in digital video broadcasting handheld (DVB-H) standard tests.

The immediate future isn't much brighter for in-flight mobile communications; it won't begin in force during 2006, ABI said.

On that front, Boeing has begun to offer Wi-Fi international services. Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines are just two carriers "switching on the in-flight Wi-Fi." And although in-flight mobile communications network manufacturers and airlines carriers are gearing up for commercial services, ABI Research said it won't materialize next year. Regulatory meeting are expected to get underway in 2006 that would "likely give the green light to allow mobile communications to be used on aircraft while flying."

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