US chip shop Qualcomm has got its hands on a 40MHz chunk of L-Band radio spectrum in the UK, presumably with the intention of pushing its own mobile TV platform in the market.

The Big Q said Friday that it had paid £8.3m for the 1452-1492MHz spectrum recently auctioned by UK comms regulator Ofcom.

There was no word on what the company intends to do with the spectrum, except it will “allow Qualcomm, in collaboration with its partners, to bring a variety of innovative wireless technologies to the UK market”.

The L-Band spectrum licence covers the entire UK and is technology neutral. The most likely reason for Qualcomm to acquire it is to give its own mobile TV technology, MediaFLO, a toehold in the market.

When speaking to at Barcelona in February, Andrew Gilbert, executive vice president of Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm Internet Services, MediaFLO Technologies and Qualcomm Europe, expressed his frustration at the European mobile TV situation. “Mobile TV could be the next WAP because existing formats aren’t that great.” Users are unwilling to accept a mobile TV service that degrades from their domestic television experience, he said.

Unsurprisingly, Gilbert argued that MediaFlo offers a superior user experience, pointing to what he said were typical usage figures in the US of 80 minutes a day.

But since then, the European Commission has made the controversial decision to add the DVB-H mobile TV standard to the EU List of Standards, moving the EC closer to its goal of ensuring that the technology is adopted by all operators in the region.

Although that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for an outside contender. Both Orange and T-Mobile UK are backing NextWave Wireless’ TDtv technology, originally developed by IPWireless.

UK broadcaster, British Sky Broadcasting Limited (BSkyB), has also completed a technical trial of the MediaFLO System in the UK. Unlike in the US, where Qualcomm operates its own MediaFLO network and rents capacity to carriers, it seems likely that the company would only build a MediaFLO network in the UK in partnership with the operators.