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Sprint Nextel presses pause on mobile TV plans, Alltel gears up for MediaFLO test

Sprint Nextel Corp. wrapped up its trial of Qualcomm Inc.’s MediaFLO service last month, and has decided not to use the MediaFLO network to offer mobile TV services-at least for the time being.
A Sprint Nextel spokeswoman said the carrier might reconsider its decision in the future, however.
RCR Wireless News reported in October that Sprint Nextel, the nation’s No. 3 wireless carrier, was trialing Qualcomm’s MediaFLO service, and had branded it as “Vue.” Sprint Nextel said it used the “Vue” brand to help participants distinguish between the trial and the carrier’s current mobile TV offering from MobiTV, which is delivered via Sprint Nextel’s CDMA2000 1x EV-DO cellular network.
That Sprint Nextel is apparently holding off on mobile TV is notable as AT&T Inc.’s Cingular Wireless L.L.C. announced earlier this week it would use Qualcomm’s MediaFLO to offer mobile TV services starting late this year. And Verizon Wireless, the nation’s No. 2 player, plans to launch mobile TV services using MediaFLO by the end of March.
Sprint Nextel’s decision perhaps is a nod to the carrier’s increasingly full plate. Thanks to the merger of Sprint Corp. and Nextel Communications Inc. in 2005, Sprint Nextel oversees both a CDMA network and an iDEN network. Further, the carrier is in the process of launching a WiMAX network with its 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings. Adding a dedicated mobile TV network to the mix-Qualcomm is spending $800 million to build its MediaFLO network in major U.S. cities-could further complicate Sprint Nextel’s technological situation.
In other MediaFLO news, Alltel Corp. said it will soon begin trialing the technology. Alltel, the nation’s No. 5 carrier, counts around 11 million customers. Alltel is in the midst of upgrading its CDMA network to EV-DO technology.
T-Mobile USA Inc. has also said it is trialing Qualcomm’s MediaFLO as well as Hiwire’s DVB-H mobile TV network. Hiwire is the mobile TV business of Aloha Partners.

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