Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hiwire Act

Wireless Week profiles a new entrant in the high stakes mobile TV fray, DVB-H entrant Hiwire. Ken Hyers at ABI Research said, "At this point, it's not a worry that they are late to the game. None of the U.S. networks will be ready commercially until about Q1 of 2007."

According to the article, "Hiwire is a subsidiary of Aloha Partners, which owns 12 MHz (2 channels) of 700 MHz spectrum covering 60 percent of the United States and 80 percent of the top 100 markets. Similar to Qualcomm's MediaFLO network (which also operates in the 700 MHz spectrum), Hiwire is dependent upon the broadcasters vacating the spectrum. The FCC has mandated that broadcasters will vacate the spectrum by February 2009." The company is currently testing its technology in Las Vegas.

ABI's Hyers said, "They can offer a lot of channels. That's important if you want to localize content or offer specialty content." Hiwire "has teamed with satellite firm SES Americom, which already delivers content via its satellite-based distribution network. Hiwire's content will originate from the SES Americom's IP-PRIME IPTV Broadcast Center in Vernon Valley, N.J., where content will be aggregated, processed and prepared in MPEG-4 format for distribution. The reformatted content will then be delivered over the SES satellite network to Hiwire's broadcast towers, where the local channel lineup will be distributed over Hiwire's terrestrial 700 MHz network."

A recent Current Analysis report is "slightly negative about Hiwire because it appears that Aloha Partners is trying to find a solution for its spectrum assets." The firm pointed out that "Aloha, along with Lucent Technologies, announced a public safety pilot last October using 1X EV-DO. The pilot was supposed to start in Phoenix this spring and was being held in conjunction with the Phoenix Fire Department and Bureau for Homeland Defense. The goal: to provide high-speed wireless broadband Internet access using 700 MHz spectrum."

Hyers added, "It could be a game that they lose if they don't bring in the right people or don't secure the right partnerships."

Regarding the potential threat Hiwire poses to Modeo due to it having more spectrum in a lower band, which is more favorable for deployment, Hyers said, "I'd be quite nervous if I was Modeo. Hiwire spectrum is broader and they have more spectrum."