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Friday, November 03, 2006

MobiTV: Dead in the UK?

According to the broadband bible, MobiTV has just raised another US$25m bringing the total investment by VC’s to US$125m since the companies launch in 1999. However, it doesn’t look as if the company is going to see any return in the UK.

The mighty Sky announced yesterday that it had struck a deal with Orange and 3 (MobiTV only UK customers) to carry its’ MobileTV product which previously had been exclusive on Vodafone. MobiTV might as well pack up and go home to the USA, because there is normally only winner in a fight with Sky.

This deal however has a bigger consequence on the forthcoming auction of the L-band in the UK. If Sky manage to sign up the majority of the major mobile networks with perhaps only Virgin, which is now part of the ntl Cable TV empire, holding out and going with BT, what hope is there for the UK government for getting a decent price for the spectrum? The Premier League found out earlier this year that an auction without any competition usually leads to low yields.

The deal also has huge consequences for the trials of the Qualcomm Mobile TV product going on. If Qualcomm manage to convince Sky to go with MediaFlo, it will deal a bigger short term blow to Nokia than any IPR battles in the courtrooms. Whatever the result, one thing is certain Sky will be getting the Mobile TV broadcast technology especially cheap.