Fri, May 02, 2008 - Page 11 News List

AT&T launches a video service for cellphones in US


AT&T Inc is launching a video service for cellphones on Sunday for two phones and will charge US$15 per month for 10 channels.

AT&T Mobile TV is almost identical to Verizon Wireless??V Cast Mobile TV, and is operated by the same firm, Qualcomm Inc. AT&T will have two exclusive channels on the service, it said yesterday.

AT&T already has a mobile video service called CV, which is based on different technology. It works like Internet video, providing short clips on demand.

Qualcomm?? MediaFLO service is more like regular TV broadcasts, constantly streaming shows on airwaves that run alongside the regular cellphone spectrum. Judging by V Cast Mobile TV, which is available on four phones, the quality is much higher than that of on-demand cellphone clips.

The service will be available in 58 markets, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

The only AT&T handsets that will initially work with the service are the ones that are going on sale on Sunday: the LG Vu, a touch-screen phone for US$299.99, and the Samsung Access, a more traditional phone for US$199.99. The prices apply with two-year contracts and come after US$100 mail-in rebates. Other TV-capable phones will be available later.

The eight channels shared with Verizon Wireless are CBS Mobile, Comedy Central, ESPN Mobile TV, Fox Mobile, MTV, NBC 2Go, NBC News 2Go and Nickelodeon. The two channels that will be exclusive to AT&T are PIX, which screens movies from Sony Pictures, and CNN Mobile Live.

AT&T had planned to launch MediaFLO phones last year.

Asked about the delay, spokesman Fletcher Cook said AT&T ??anted to be sure that we delivered an unmatched, high-quality offering to as many of our customers as possible.??br />

Verizon Wireless has been quiet about how many people subscribe to V Cast Mobile TV, which costs the same as AT&T?? service. Some analysts are skeptical that consumers are eager to pay US$15 per month to watch TV on small screens.

But Qualcomm is confident of MediaFLO?? prospects, putting down US$554.6 million in a government auction in March for the right to use old UHF channel 56 in the Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. That would allow it to broadcast several more MediaFLO channels in those areas.

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