In-car entertainment screens should be able to receive Qualcomm's paid MediaFLO mobile TV broadcasting service by the end of the year, according to announcements this week.
But a look in drivers' rear-view mirrors will show a competing free service jockeying for position.
Qualcomm announced Thursday that it will expand its MediaFLO service to 100 markets this year -- up from the 63 markets currently served by the $15-a-month service. Also this week, Audiovox said it will make a MediaFLO receiver that will operate in autos before the end of the year. With some 20 million cars outfitted with screens capable of receiving MediaFLO and the expanded 100-market deployment, MediaFLO has staked out a sizable lead in wireless mobile TV transmission. New spectrum scheduled to be available for use from the coming DTV switch is a boon to increased MediaFLO, the company noted.
"In collaboration with our carrier partners, MediaFLO USA will continue to lead the evolution of live mobile television and extend FLO TV to tens of millions of previously unreached consumers in dozens of new markets across the country," MediaFLO USA president Gina Lombardi said in a statement. Currently AT&T and Verizon Wireless offer 10 MediaFLO channels for $15 a month.
MediaFLO said its research shows that users of the service spend more than 20 minutes daily on the service -- about the same amount of time spent by users talking on their cell phones.
A potentially competing service, the Open Mobile Video Coalition, is gearing up to begin broadcasting to wireless mobile devices this year, too. The group said this week that broadcast transmissions will be available this year even while waiting for handsets for the service to be developed. The service, which would initially offer local TV station reception in selected cities, would likely be free.