March 6, 2006 9:00 PM PST
Cingular launches mobile-TV service
The service--called Cingular Video--allows viewers to select short three- to five-minute clips from 18 different channels, including selections from shows airing on the Cartoon Network, NBC and ESPN.
Cingular has also partnered with media companies to offer exclusive content from sources such as Fox News, which will offer short clips of news, and HBO, which will offer clips of "The Sopranos," "Sex and the City," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Entourage."
Cingular Video will be available free of charge to Cingular customers purchasing an unlimited 3G data package, which costs $19.99 per month. The data package also allows for unlimited text messaging, e-mailing and picture sharing over the network. To receive clips from HBO, customers will have to subscribe to a premium channel, which costs $4.99 per month.
Cingular's competitors also offer video clips. Verizon Wireless offers a service called V Cast over its 3G wireless network for $15 per month. The subscription includes 300 channels of packaged video clips between one and four minutes long. Sprint Nextel charges $9.99 for its on-demand video service, but users must also subscribe to a data package, which can cost an additional $10 to $20 per month.
Cingular currently offers a live TV service over its 2.5G network through MobiTV. That service costs $9.99 per month. In addition to the MobiTV subscription, customers must sign up for a data package, which ranges from $4.99 per month for 1MB of data usage to a $19.99 package for unlimited data usage.
Mobile operators, such as Cingular, are hoping mobile TV is a big hit with consumers, generating additional revenue that will help offset the billions of dollars operators have already spent to build new 3G high-speed wireless networks.
But some studies suggest that Americans may not be interested watching TV on their cell phones. About 75 percent of roughly 1,000 people polled said they had no interest in watching TV on their cells, according to a survey conducted by RBC Capital Markets.
Cingular's 3G network is currently available in 16 markets. And it offers 3G service on the LG CU320 or Samsung SGH-ZX10 handsets and will add the Nokia 6282 and LG CU500 to its 3G product line later this spring. Prices for Cingular 3G handsets start at $99 after a $50 mail-in rebate for a two-year service plan commitment.
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