Update - On October 5, 2010, Qualcomm signaled the end of the FloTV service by declaring that there would be no further sales of devices to consumers. FLO TV service was shut down on March 27, 2011.
Chrysler Group LLC is the first automaker in the United States to offer live mobile TV to consumers with the capacity for as many as 20 channels through FLO TV Auto Entertainment. The system offers something for everyone: college and professional sports, breaking news, children's shows, primetime sitcoms, reality TV and daytime dramas. Until now, the challenge for mobile TV has been to deliver high-quality, uninterrupted coverage in urban environments and at highway speeds. Existing mobile TV systems in the United States either offer limited channels or require large satellite dishes on vehicle roofs - and a large price tag to match.
Television signals are delivered through a dedicated multicast network built by San Diego-based FLO TV Inc., a live mobile TV service provider, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc. FLO TV offers live and time-shifted programming from top entertainment brands, including CBS Mobile, CNBC, Comedy Central, FOX News, MSNBC, MTV, NBC 2Go and Nickelodeon.
Up to 20 channels will be available in late December when the feature is available for dealer installation. By the end of 2009, the FLO TV service should be available in more than 100 major markets and many interstate driving corridors. The FLO TV service is not available in some rural areas.
Audiovox Corp., of Hauppauge, NY, supplies FLO TV Auto Entertainment hardware that integrates with Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge Car and Ram Truck vehicles' existing entertainment systems and new Mopar 7-inch DVD screen systems. A small antenna, similar in size to a laptop mouse, is mounted on a vehicle's roof to deliver the digital TV signal. Inside the vehicle, the receiver and wiring are installed under the interior trim of the vehicle and are not visible to occupants. User-friendly wired and wireless remote controls allow viewers to easily surf channels, similar to TV systems at home.
Is FLO TV Analog, Digital, or HD?
FLO TV is a digital technology; it is a high quality TV signal and different then ATSC-M/H or DTV or mobile DTV because it was designed and optimized for this.
FLO TV is different in many ways:
Is FLO TV 720 or 1080?
Neither, FLO TV broadcasts at QVGA resolution and upscale in the black box using bi-cubic upscaling algorithms to VGA resolution so the consumer sees VGA resolution.
FLO TV is on channel 55, can a consumer tune in with a traditional TV tuner?
No, you need a special chipset to decode, process, protect the content.
How will consumers know what types of programming will be live, timeshifted or delayed?
Consumers will be able to view an electronic program guide just as they can on their home TV, or they can go to www.flotv.com to get the programming information. Each of FLO TV's programming partners is programming the service to suit the mobile customer so, of course, news and sports events are live so that consumers can catch them while it's happening, prime time shows and late night shows are on when consumers expect them at home, but other programming may be time-shifted. For example, if you missed Letterman late at night, you can catch it again at lunch. This strategy helps make the daytime programming on the FLO TV service much more compelling than your home TV and users "get it" very quickly.
FLO TV has their own network, is it cell, satellite or a hybrid?
It is "terrestrial" - it is not cellular based technology used by the wireless carriers for their voice & data services, FLO TV broadcasts over terrestrial airwaves typically from broadcast TV towers where they have deployed their own FLO TV transmitters (not "repeaters" like satellite). FLO TV broadcasts at much higher power and with much larger coverage areas than a typical cell site, for example. They broadcast at up to 50KW with an "average" of a 50 mile radius coverage per site which is much greater radius than a cell site.
This delivers several advantages:
FLO TV has a 6MHz spectrum, how does that compare to Satellite Radio or HD Radio in the terms of quality?
FLO TV has a spectrum from 716-722 MHz frequency. Quality is not a function of spectrum, although certain spectrum is more or less valuable because of how well it propagates, e.g. FLO TV's spectrum at 716-722MHz propagates at much longer distances and through buildings, underpasses or short tunnels, etc. much better than higher frequencies, like for example satellite radio which is much higher frequency up at 2GHz+. This is why they have problems in cities, underpasses etc and need repeaters everywhere, plus it is satellite vs. terrestrial so the signal has to travel a lot further. You may remember several billion dollars were recently raised by the FCC in the recent 700MHz auction, that is because this spectrum is highly coveted and useful for high data rate services.
If Channel partners are added after initial purchase how will alerts be sent into the field?
FLO TV will keep Audiovox notified of any changes to programming and likewise there will be a FLO TV web site that consumers and dealers will have ongoing access to that will be heavily content/programming focused so people know what is on and what is being added and when.
Since there is a split in the bandwidth will there be room to multicast and view sub-channels - like HD Radio?
No, FLO TV allocates bandwidth differently than HD Radio. Rather than splitting the bandwidth permanently for sub channels, FLO TV allocates it depending on content and need. For instance, a sports program will require more bandwidth then a cartoon, therefore FLO TV constantly monitors their content and optimizes for the best picture quality.
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