Qualcommm’s (QCOM) MediaFLO mobile television service has the potential to reach 40 percent more people once the DTV transition occurs on Friday. The switch from analog television signals to digital television signals had been scheduled for mid-February, but concerns that a subset of the population weren’t adequately prepared for it led Washington to legislate a four-month delay. That hold-up effectively stopped Qualcomm from launching service in 15 new markets, among them San Francisco, Houston, Miami and Boston, where it owned rights to the analog spectrum being used by local television stations to transmit their signals.
But the end is in sight for Qualcomm, which has the equipment in place, the power turned on, and is ready to send more television to more places the second it has access to those radio waves once the DTV transition occures on June 12. It expects its signals to reach 200 million people, about 60 million more than it reaches today. This is a positive step for Qualcomm’s service, which has seen relatively slow adoption on mobile devices, based on outside over-the-air mobile TV viewing numbers provided by comScore. In addition to increasing its availability to more people in more cities, Qualcomm earlier this year signed an agreement to get MediaFLO on more devices. It inked a deal with Audiovox to build MediaFLO access into its in-car entertainment systems, as well as one with with ProTelevision Technologies to make devices that can attach to a cell phone, and allow that phone to receive the MediaFLO service. Together they should help Qualcomm address the limitation of having MediaFLO built into relatively few handsets. Will they be enough? Stay tuned.