Modeo Launches MobileTV Beta

Modeo, the mobile TV company owned by Crown Castle, plans to announce on Monday that its service is live in New York city, in what the company is calling a ‘beta commercial launch.’

There’s a bit of hand waving involved, as the beta service is closed to the public and will be open only to a select group, which the company says will have several hundred users. The company had been shooting for an end of the year launch, but will now make the announcement at CES next week.

The service will launch with video and audio content, and Modeo said it will use the beta group to get feedback throughout the first quarter. The company still has no carrier deals to announce or a timeline for when (if?) the service will be available to the public and outside of New York. The beta group will be using the DVB-H HTC-manufactured smart phone, which it showed off last year — we’ll check out their demo at CES at the Microsoft partners booth.

The beta launch is good news for Modeo, as it can try to use this to get a carrier deal, and good for companies like Nokia that can finally show off DVB-H gear stateside on a live network. But a closed launch is rather underwhelming. I got the feeling that the next quarter will be Modeo’s make it or break it time. If the beta service goes well and deals follow, the company could survive. But, hey, let’s be realistic, the CEO just bailed, that’s not a good sign.

Especially since Qualcomm is planning on launching its MediaFLO mobile TV service in the first quarter of this year and has been besting Modeo on carrier deals. I wouldn’t be surprised if Qualcomm made a launch announcement at CES, too. Only they’ll probably have more details of when consumers can actually start buying the service.

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