FCC OKs Qualcomm’s MediaFLO Moves in D.C.

Washington, Baltimore to Receive Multichannel Service via Third-Generation Wireless Phones

MediaFLO is coming to the nation's capital.

Qualcomm Tuesday got permission from the Federal Communications Commission to operate on channel 55 in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore as it continues to roll out its MediaFLO service, which is delivering a multichannel service to third-generation wireless phones.

Qualcomm won a national license for the channel at auction, and it has been negotiating with stations on channel 55 and adjacent channels to occupy that space early as it rolls out the service.

The channel is being reclaimed in the transition to digital, but the FCC has allowed stations to exit their channels early under certain conditions, primarily that it will not mean a dramatic loss of service to viewers from a key station in their market.

Qualcomm has struck deals with The CW affiliate WNUV-TV channel 54 in Baltimore and NBC affiliate WHAG-DT channel 56 in Hagerstown, Md., which have agreed to accept the additional interference from the service operating on the adjacent channel.

The FCC has concluded that the rollout of the service is worth the additional interference to stations that are not the top four in their markets. It also takes into account the cable penetration in the market, which means the availability of alternative means of getting the signals, which, in this case, is over 90%.

The FCC also pointed out that the MediaFLO service will provide "up to 15 live streaming-video-program channels," and that Qualcomm has pledged to provide local programming and public-interest programming including news, weather and public affairs, as well as delivering emergency-alert information, just as TV stations using the band are required to do.

The commission has made promoting advanced wireless services a priority as it attempts to get more efficient use out of the spectrum and spur the rollout of broadband.