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Thu, Jun 21, 2007 - Page 10 News List

AT&T launches live video service for mobile phones

BIG HOPES The launch of Video Share in three US cities has added to the company's momentum as it gears up for the release of the iPhone next week


AT&T Inc on Tuesday launched what it said is the first service letting callers share live video between cellphones.

The AT&T Video Share service won't apply to iPhone, which uses an older network.

AT&T has an exclusive deal to offer service for the Apple Inc device.

But the launch of the video service adds to the company's momentum as it gears up for the introduction of the iPhone on Friday next week, which it called a "game-changer" for the telecommunications industry.

Video Share was released in three markets -- Atlanta, Georgia; and Dallas and San Antonio, Texas -- and will be available elsewhere late next month.

It works only on the company's 3G, or third-generation, wireless network and requires a Video Share-capable phone, AT&T said.

The company said it will offer Video Share service packs for US$4.99 and US$9.99 a month, depending on included minutes. Without a plan, the service costs US$0.35 a minute.

New AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson told a telecommunications industry trade show in Chicago that the new service has the potential to expand rapidly beyond wireless-to-wireless.

"You should expect this to quickly reach the other two screens, and that's the PC and the television," he said at NXTcomm.

"Imagine watching television when a notice pops on the screen that a daughter or granddaughter would like to initiate a Video Share call, then immediately switching the television screen to accept the video and audio," Stephenson said. "With our powerful IP-based network and flexible IMS platform, these scenarios will eventually be reality."

Speaking just two weeks after taking the helm at San Antonio, Texas-based AT&T on June 3, he touted wireless as key to the future of the company and the industry, and said the migration from fixed service to wireless is accelerating.

AT&T hopes to benefit from that trend with the rollout of the iPhone. The device will be sold at stores owned by Apple and AT&T.

Stephenson said the company is "gearing up for this big-time," including adding hundreds of staffers at its 1,800 retail stores for the expected rush.

More than 1 million people have signed up for more information about the iPhone, he said, and nearly 40 percent of them are not AT&T Wireless customers.

"I really believe this is going to be a game-changer, not only for us but for the industry at large," he said.

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