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NextWave's TV Eye on WiMax

NextWave Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: WAVE) has developed broadcast TV technology for WiMax network operators, although it's probably going to be at least a year before 802.16 users can expect to tune in.

The San Diego-based company plans on demonstrating its MTx TV at next month's CTIA wireless show. MTx allows operators to transmit 45 broadcast-quality channels in a 10 MHz WiMax band and 24 channels in half that bandwidth. The technology can also be used to deliver radio and other interactive media services.

NextWave partner Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has already committed to incorporating the technology into some of its WiMax basestation platforms. NextWave is also talking to other manufacturers, including an as-yet unnamed terminal vendor, says Mark Kelley, CTO of NextWave network products.

That doesn't mean NextWave is expecting operators to launch mobile TV services the instant they switch on new WiMax networks. "I don't know that if I were them I would necessarily do it on day one," Kelley says. Rather, he sees the service as an attractive add-on for networks after they've been up and running.

So, when might mobile TV services arrive on WiMax networks? "We could do it this year," offers Kelley. The technology will have to be deployed and certified in mobile terminals, however. And, as Kelley notes, content deals can take months, even a full year, for the operators to line up. This likely pushes real WiMax TV deployments into 2009 or later.

NextWave isn't saying who it's talking to on the carrier side. "We're marketing to whoever it is interested in doing it," says Kelley. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and South Korean deployments look like obvious candidates for the technology, which works across all the standard mobile WiMax bands.

Intriguingly, NextWave could use its own spectrum in the U.S., including some added through the purchase of IPWireless last year, if it wanted to showcase the technology. (See NextWave Buys IPWireless.) That's not currently on the menu though, according to Kelley.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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