Cingular has now joined Verizon in backing the proprietary Qualcomm MediaFLO mobile television system. Satellite broadcaster BSkyB has also completed a second trial of MediaFLO and reports improved coverage over the rival open DVB-H standard that is strongly backed by Nokia.

MediaFLO broadcasts were being demonstrated at the 3GSM conference in Barcelona in conjunction with Spain’s Albertis Telecom. The presence of Qualcomm at the 3GSM conference was significant as the company makes chipsets for the separate CDMA standard used by some operators in North America.

Cingular, the mobile division of AT&T, has now joined Verizon in selecting Qualcomm MediaFLO technology, meaning that it will now be adopted by the two largest mobile operators in the United States. AT&T plans to offer services by the end of the year, while Verizon expects to launch in the coming weeks.

This puts more pressure Crown Castle International, with their plans for the Modeo network based on DVB-H.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm is backing both horses, with the announcement of a chip that supports the MediaFLO, DVB-H and ISDB-T standards.

“Qualcomm believes the adoption rate of mobile TV on handsets is poised to grow at an exponential rate and we remain committed to supporting other standards that network operators may choose to deploy,” said Mike Concannon, vice president of strategic products for Qualcomm CDMA technologies.

Sky trials
Some results were also revealed from a second technical trial recently conducted by BSkyB in Manchester, England. It follows a similar test held in Cambridge last summer and appears to corroborate the results of that trial.

BSkyB and Qualcomm conducted the trial to verify MediaFLO performance and compare it with competing standards, specifically DVB-H. Qualcomm says the results suggest that a MediaFlow network would be able to cover either twice the geographical area per transmitter or deliver double the number of channels.

Robin Crossley, technology strategy adviser for BSkyB, said the trial used lab and field test results to compare the performance of MediaFLO and DVB-H. “The trial showed that the MediaFLO System has considerable technical advantages over DVB-H and confirms the financial modeling undertaken to date.”

In addition to the technical trials with BSkyB, Qualcomm is working with other service providers around the world to explore MediaFLO services, including both KDDI and Softbank in Japan.