At CES, we were lucky enough to sit down with a couple of guys from Qualcomm who are in charge of US mobile TV system FLO TV. The service, which allows people across the US to watch broadcast, network TV on portable, wireless devices, will apparently arrive in the UK at some point. We couldn't get Qualcomm to tell us exactly when, but the suggestion was that we could see the service go live in the next two years. Crave didn't think that was fast enough, though, so we pushed for it to happen sooner.
If you haven't heard of FLO TV, then we should explain why you might want to start getting excited. The system, which operates on a separate range of frequencies to mobile-phone signals, broadcasts a range of TV channels on a small block of bandwidth. It doesn't use traditional broadcast signals, and it doesn't work in the same way that, say, Sky TV works on a mobile phone. Like normal TV, though, it is broadcast, so an unlimited number of people can watch at the same time without swamping the network.
Qualcomm is aiming to get FLO TV launched in time for us all to watch the Olympics in 2012. It needs to build an expensive broadcast network first, and get TV companies to agree to provide content. The last part shouldn't be a problem, though, as US networks are earning cash from having their content on the platform.
Qualcomm is also hoping to bring the service to even more devices. The FLO TV box, as it stands now, is a pleasant-looking device, and it will allow you to watch up to 8 hours of TV a day before it needs charging. In the future, the technology could end up in mobile phones and pretty much any other device that has a screen. Qualcomm also told us that it's possible to send video content overnight, to give customers a Sky Anytime-style experience, uploading on-demand videos to devices when there isn't much prime-time TV happening.