Mobile TV: Beyond The Cell Phone

Mobile TV networks could be used to beam video onto devices other than cell phones. They could potentially broadcast video into cars, portable media players and the iPod -- and deal a blow to satellite TV.
Olga Kharif

I recently talked with an executive from Qualcomm, which is building out a mobile TV broadcasting network that will go live this year. The idea behind the network is to beam video and radio channels onto cell phones of customers of Verizon Wireless and other carriers. But that's just one idea. What's less talked about is the possibility of mobile TV networks being used to beam video onto other devices.

A mobile TV network, such as the one built by Qualcomm or Crown Castle, could beam video into cars, onto portable video players, such as iRiver, and onto the iPod. And I actually think it would make a lot of sense for Apple and other consumer electronics makers to offer this capability.

Their gadgets have larger screens than cell phones, so they offer a much better viewing experience. And having mobile TV as part of the devices' functionality could be an important point of differentiation.

I bet that, in the next few years, mobile TV will start competing directly with satellite TV, which already feeds into some cars, for instance. For satellite companies, the threat is all the greater considering that mobile TV is built for cell phones, so the technology will likely be less of a drain on the battery than satellite TV receivers.

DirecTV, EchoStar, beware.

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