Murdoch and TV-Over-WiMAX

A few months ago, Robert Young had said that Rupert Murdoch will and should be very interested in fixed wireless technologies. Subsequent media reports and aggressive (and failed) bids for spectrum in the recent Advanced Wireless Spectrum (AWS) auctions indicate that the wily old fox and his company are seriously interested in life beyond satellite. There hasn’t been much concrete proof of his plans, but today we did discover another little gem which indicates that News Corp. is very interested in WiMAX.

At the upcoming IBC 2006 show, NDS (Nasdaq: NNDS), a PayTV software maker based in UK will demo a TV-over-WIMAX system in partnership with Intel and Modern Times Group’s Viasat Broadcasting, a leading digital satellite pay-TV broadcaster in the Nordic countries. They will show that WiMAX TV software from NDS will be able to deliver content over WiMAX to personal Consumer Electronic (CE) devices such as laptop computers and other handheld devices.

Visitors to the NDS stand at IBC 2006 (1.171) will be able to see a demonstration of live Viasat content encoded in MPEG-4 AVC using a Grass Valley Argos advanced H.264 real-time encoder and then delivered through the NDS WiMAX TV system over WiMAX to an Intel Centrino Duo mobile technology based notebook PC.

Normally one would dismiss this as yet another demo-ware press release, but the fact that NDS’ largest shareholder is News Corp., makes us take note of this announcement. TV-over-WiMAX could take away the important video-over-fixed line arguments that Cable & DSL guys constantly offer when dismissing wireless.

From Murdoch’s perspective, unlicensed spectrum could be one way of getting into the broadband game? Of course we have speculated a future relationship with Clearwire in the US. So many scenarios that can play out, but the one that makes most sense to me: no need to cannibalize his core satellite businesses. Thoughts?

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