Qualcomm is to launch its FLO mobile TV service in 39 new US markets this year following the switchover to digital TV (DTV) in the country, which takes place tomorrow. The delayed switchover – which was originally scheduled to occur in February – has freed up spectrum Qualcomm bought for US$550 million in an auction last year in order to rollout its mobile TV platform. Fifteen new FLO markets will go live immediately following the DTV transition, bringing service to major markets such as Boston, Houston, Miami and San Francisco, while others will follow throughout the year. Qualcomm said it will also expand the service in existing markets including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC. It added that the additional markets would bring its total in the US to more than 100 major markets, and is it aiming to reach more than 200 million potential consumers nationwide by the end of 2009.
Qualcomm was vocal in its objection to the US government’s decision to delay the DTV switchover by four months, noting at the time that the move would cost it “tens of millions of dollars.” The delay in freeing up the spectrum also affected mobile operators such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which had to wait to receive the 700MHz spectrum they won in last year’s auction. The spectrum is being used by both operators to launch LTE services.