Qualcomm is throwing in the mobile TV towel.
The San Diego company said it has stopped selling FLO TV direct-to-consumer devices and expects to maintain the service for existing customers through the spring of 2011. Qualcomm's statement Tuesday follows a report by PaidContent.org that Qualcomm would shut down the service by the end of 2010.
Qualcomm said it expects some layoffs to result from the service's shutdown but that it is "working to redeploy impacted employees."
The future of the mobile TV offerings from AT&T and Verizon Wireless -- which are delivered by FLO TV over the same 6-MHz slice in the 700-MHz band -- remained unclear. Qualcomm declined to provide additional information, and the wireless carriers would not comment.
"We have been engaging in conversations with a wide range of partners for both the network and the spectrum," Qualcomm said, noting that it previously disclosed that it is examining "strategic opportunities" for the FLO TV unit. "We are seeing strong interest in using the FLO TV network or spectrum to capitalize on the growing imbalance between mobile data supply and demand, the growth of tablets, and consumer demand for high-quality video and print content, and a richer user experience."
FLO TV has deals to carry more than a dozen channels, including ABC Mobile, CBS Mobile, CNBC, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, ESPN Mobile TV, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, MTV, NBC 2Go and Nickelodeon. The service cost between $10 and $15 per month from Qualcomm, AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
Qualcomm added that in the event FLO TV is shut down the company will "make appropriate refunds, the details of which will be communicated prior to discontinuation."
The company has spent more than $800 million building out FLO TV. In March 2008, the company acquired five E-block licenses in the Federal Communications Commission's 700-MHz spectrum auction for $554.6 million to increase FLO TV coverage.