Qualcomm suspends sale of FLO TV devices

Qualcomm has suspended sales of devices for its mobile TV service, FLO TV, as it considers options for how to use its national network that is currently dedicated to multimedia.

FLO TV will probably remain available into the spring season next year on devices that are already in consumers’ hands, Qualcomm said in a statement on Tuesday.

FLO TV is broadcast in the U.S. over a network built and operated by a subsidiary of Qualcomm, on former TV channels. In addition to phones equipped with special radios and antennas, the service is available on the FLO TV Personal Television, a dedicated handheld device introduced last year by Qualcomm subsidiary MediaFLO. FLO TV is sold by mobile operators, including AT&T and Verizon Wireless, under their own brands. Services are available in numerous metropolitan areas around the country.

Qualcomm launched service on the FLO technology, which stands for “forward link only,” in 2007. By using separate antennas and frequencies from the cellular network, FLO leaves carriers’ existing frequencies free for other services.

Qualcomm said in July it has been looking at “strategic opportunities” for the FLO TV network. On Tuesday, the company said potential partners have expressed interest in using the network to help deliver mobile data to devices including tablets, but that the process is continuing.

FLO TV programming varies somewhat by carrier but includes both live events and prerecorded shows, some of them rebroadcast after their original airings on broadcast and cable TV. Verizon’s VCast Mobile TV Basic Package, for example, includes CNBC, Comedy Central, ESPN Mobile TV, Fox News, MTV and Nickelodeon.

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