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Qualcomm Buys Mobile TV Company

Qualcomm is beefing up its mobile TV team as a potentially competing service from the Open Mobile Video Coalition looms.

In a move to boost its mobile television services, Qualcomm purchased Digital Fountain for an undisclosed amount.

The privately held Digital Fountain specializes in optimizing the delivery of video over IP and mobile networks. The company's DF Raptor technology is used by multiple mobile operators, as well as IPTV providers. The deal was primarily made to bring Digital Fountain's key engineers and products under Qualcomm's umbrella.

The move comes as Qualcomm is planning to aggressively launch and promote its MediaFLO mobile broadcast TV product in multiple markets. But the delay in the digital television transition may slow the rollout because Qualcomm is waiting to utilize vacated spectrum. The service can provide live and on-demand television to mobile phones, as well as in-car entertainment systems.

Companies like Qualcomm, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless have invested billions in developing and deploying mobile TV services, but it has yet to catch on at a substantial rate. But recent surveys said the adoption rate is a paltry 1% because of limited channels, poor connectivity, and high monthly costs.

But mobile TV is expected to get a big push later this year, as the Open Mobile Video Coalition will be ushering in a service that could be a competitor to MediaFLO. The coalition said 63 stations in 22 cities will provide free over-the-air programming for mobile devices sometime in 2009. While there are no devices capable of playing this mobile DTV standard, the coalition said it will spur electronics makers to create phones, laptops, and portable game consoles that can take advantage of it.

Learn more about all the latest products and technologies for the mobile TV market at TechWeb's Interop Las Vegas, May 17-21. Join us (registration required).

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