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Consolidation Predicted for U.S. Mobile TV

The nascent mobile TV market in the U.S. cannot support the current number of players and is likely to undergo consolidation, according to a new report from Parks Associates. The report specifically points to Crown Castle's Modeo and Aloha Partner's Hiwire as candidates for consolidation, with both companies planning to launch nationwide mobile TV networks using DVB-H technology.

Parks cites several factors that make consolidation likely. In addition to Hiwire and Modeo, Qualcomm and Sprint-Nextel are both planning to deploy new networks, bringing the total to four. This number is high by international standards despite the fact that the U.S. has a relatively low cellular penetration rate.

Italy and South Korea, by comparison, have just two networks each even though consumers in these countries show a stronger propensity for using mobile phones as multimedia platforms, according to Parks.

"If you do the math, there are four networks for four operators, and that isn't realistic because you lose all the advantages of network sharing," said John Barrett, director of research at Parks Associates. "Consolidation would be a win-win scenario for the industry. Hiwire needs a network, and Modeo needs a more favorable spectrum allocation. They are a natural fit, whereas Sprint-Nextel has a large subscriber base to support its network and Qualcomm is dedicated to promoting its technology and chipsets."

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