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Qualcomm Nationwide Multimedia, United States of America

Key Data

Qualcomm is in the midst of constructing a new nationwide 3G network in the US solely for multimedia, video and audio streaming to consumer mobile customers. The network will be marketed as a shared resource for CDMA 2000 and WCDMA (Wideband CDMA) telecoms operators as the most efficient method of delivering mobile interactive multimedia services to their subscribers without the need to install their own 3G infrastructure. Because of the imminent introduction of mobile phone television services by many operators this network would seem to be ideal to bear the brunt of the bandwidth requirements.

Qualcomm has invested an estimated $800 million into the construction of the network. The nationwide network is scheduled for completion by the fourth quarter of 2006. Qualcomm is already in negotiation with major mobile telecoms providers in the US offering them with additional bandwidth to provide data and media services to their customers.

The company is constructing towers and masts across the US to beam music and video to several types of 3G handsets, including CDMA2000-1x, 1xEV-DO and WCDMA. The network will use the 700MHz radio spectrum for which Qualcomm already owns licenses. The majority of the spectrum was acquired in the June 2003 FCC Auction No. 49, using a portion of the Company's Auction Discount Voucher and the remainder in October 2004 via a transaction with the original licensee.


Qualcomm has set up a subsidiary called MediaFLO USA Inc to develop, install and operate the new network. Qualcomm, through MediaFLO, will tailor the content offered via the network from each mobile telecom operator to provide unique interactive multimedia services for each. In addition to this the company will also accumulate and distribute content from TV stations and networks, cable and satellite operators and other providers in the US (possibly radio stations).

The use of spectrum in the relatively low-frequency 700MHz band is allowing MediaFLO to build a network with far fewer towers than are required for conventional cellular systems. According to Qualcomm designers and planners, the network will use 30 to 50 times fewer towers. As an example, covering San Diego County required only three high-powered transmitters instead of hundreds. This saves on the time taken to roll out a network of this kind makes it much cheaper to implement.

The system will be based on Qualcomm's FLO (Forward Link Only) technology. The MediaFLO network will be able to support between 50 and 100 channels of national and local content, including as many as 15 live streaming channels, in addition to ones featuring video clips and audio. Qualcomm expects to beat current mobile multimedia quality, offering audio in stereo and video in QVGA (Quarter Video Graphics Array) format at 30 frames per second.


Central to the MediaFLO service is the development of two key multicast technologies to increase capacity and reduce cost of content delivery to mobile handsets. These are 1xEV-DO Platinum Multicast, an evolution of CDMA2000 1xEV-DO, and FLO (Forward Link Only), which is complementary to CDMA2000 and WCDMA networks.

FLO (Forward Link Only) technology is designed to minimise the power consumption and size of mobile phones, and to integrate into the base-band chip. EV-DO Platinum Multicast and FLO technology are both multi-cast innovations designed to increase the capacity and reduce the cost of delivering video, audio and other content to large numbers of users simultaneously.

EV-DO Platinum Multicast is a backwards-compatible evolution of 1xEV-DO. The existing EV-DO forward link design uses CDMA to transmit data packets to a single user (unicast) or simultaneously to multiple users (multicast) during different time slots; this is known as Time Division Multiplexing (TDM). Each data packet is provided with the full forward link power from one cell sector during its time slot.

EV-DO Platinum Multicast further improves the system by reserving the same TDM time slot at all cells in a region and then transmitting one or more common packets within the reserved slot to all users in the region. In the system mobile handsets receive the same packet from multiple cells and then combine the energy to improve reception. To simplify the combination an Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex (OFDM) waveform is used for the transmission.

FLO multicast technology is designed for markets where a dedicated transmission spectrum is available and where regulations permit high-power transmission from one or a small number of towers. Similar to Platinum Multicast, FLO transmits packets using OFDM. These systems will be compatible with existing cellular networks because interactive services are supported already within the mobile handsets using CDMA2000 1X, 1xEV-DO or WCDMA technology.

FLO technology is designed specifically for use in mobile devices where low battery power consumption is critical; the system will allow better power efficiency and coverage characteristics.

New handsets for 3G networks will include the MSM6500 chipset which will give more processing power; in addition the handsets will have higher screen resolutions, significantly improved sound and much larger memory size.

Although the MediaFLO service will be available on the new network when it is completed in late-2006 the technology is also available for incorporation into existing networks. QUALCOMM is also targeting the MediaFLO system for BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) operators with already deployed CDMA2000 1xEV-DO networks.


QUALCOMM has a contract with the German company Rohde and Schwarz to supply their NV7000 transmitters for the FLO network. The compact NV7000 transmitters have built in redundancy for excellent reliability, are liquid cooled and include an automatic switch over unit. Each unit contains an advanced Laterally Diffused Metal Oxide Semiconductor (LDMOS) high power amplifier, which also has its own power supply. Two complete exciters, including the associated automatic switchover unit, can be accommodated comfortably in a 630mm amplifier main frame.

The NV7000's exciters are software programs that are designed to allow easy one-step upgrades of the FLO technology-based product. The UHF transmitter R&S NV7000 is available for analogue TV with powers of 2kW to >40kW and for DVB-T with powers of 400W to >5kW and features a frequency range from 470MHz to 860MHz. The transmitters, with maximum output powers of 10kW for analogue TV, 3.4kW for DVB-T or 4.1kW for ATSC, are accommodated in a rack 630mm in width. This means space requirements are at a minimum since components such as the harmonics filter, the vision / sound diplexer and the colour sub-carrier trap for analogue TV can also be accommodated in the transmitter rack.