The Wireless Revolution: NextWave develops TV system for phones

Mobile broadband company NextWave Wireless Inc. says it has developed a mobile TV system for next-generation mobile phones that run on WiMax wireless technology. MXtv offers the ability to broadcast programming to mobile devices, a service similar to MediaFLO from Qualcomm Inc. But the new technology is limited to WiMax networks, which are primarily being constructed in India and other developing countries.

WiMax is a long-range wireless technology for high-speed data connections. Because it can work with mobile devices such as laptops, some see it as a contender for the so-called fourth generation of cell phones, or 4G. Sprint is testing WiMax networks in Chicago, Washington and a few other markets. The company had announced plans to build a nationwide WiMax network, but investors who are unhappy with the multibillion-dollar investment have been pressuring the company to hold off. Sprint?s hesitation makes the future of WiMax phone networks in the United States uncertain.

NextWave, based in San Diego, Calif., says its MXtv service will be less expensive than competitors such as MediaFLO because it coexists with voice in a single slice of the radio spectrum. That means MXtv does not require the expensive purchase of additional spectrum licenses. NextWave has ties to San Diego-based Qualcomm. In addition to WiMax, the company is investing in another 4G technology, LTE, or Long Term Evolution. The company acquired San Diego companies Cygnus Communications and PacketVideo, whose expertise lies in WiMax technology and software for cell phones, respectively.

NextWave said Chinese wireless technology company Huawei will include its mobile TV technology in its WiMax networks. NextWave also is negotiating with other WiMax companies, Chief Technology Officer Mark Kelley says. Kelley says NextWave has been demonstrating an MXtv media player, not a phone, and expects a commercial version within nine to 12 months.

Wireless industry analysts debate the potential for WiMax as a 4G-phone technology. But if MXtv adds a potential revenue-generating service, it can only improve the business case for WiMax mobile phones, some say. Along with debate over WiMax mobile phones, industry observers are divided over the demand for mobile TV. Some question the performance of services such as Verizon?s V-Cast and MediaFLO. Others say there is consumer interest in mobile video, pointing to the popularity of Apple?s iPhone, heavily promoted as a device capable of downloading and displaying mobile video. In-Stat analyst Michelle Abraham said that Verizon and MediaFLO have not released subscriber numbers, so it?s difficult to gauge early demand.

Many companies are convinced that there?s money to be made in the area, including TV broadcasters, which are developing technology to better broadcast to mobile devices, and ICO Global Communications.

Cutting-Edge Technology?s Two-Edged Sword

A survey of white-collar and knowledge workers found employees across virtually every industry are affected by information overload. The most troubled profession seems to be the legal field, where 80 percent of workers say they are increasingly overloaded with information. The survey, commissioned by LexisNexis computer research, reports that 62 percent of professionals report that they spend too much time sifting through irrelevant information to find what they need. Sixty-eight percent say they wish they could spend less time organizing information and more time using the information that comes their way. More than 40 percent of those taking the workplace survey say they don?t feel they?ll be able to handle any more additional information in their jobs.
It?s not that technology itself is a problem, but it?s a problem the way people use it and it?s a problem that workers don?t have the knowledge or tools at their disposal to help wade through this information swamp. Companies have to bear the brunt of the problem. They are the ones that invested in technology because it increased productivity. Yet when it becomes such a significant problem that it causes anxiety in the work force and stymies workers from being as productive as they might be, it has defeated itself. The smarter companies will soon see there is a thing such as too much information. They will address the situation by training their employees in how to deal with it. That should have been done before, but it wasn?t. It is now a challenge for any and all companies that want to flourish.
?Michael Kinsman