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Vcast Mobile TV goes live in 20 markets

Verizon Wireless has launched mobile TV service using MediaFLO USA Inc.’s technology and network, initially offering the service in 20 markets across the United States from Richmond, Va., to Portland, Ore.
The service is priced at $15 per month for mobile TV only, which includes eight live video channels and parental controls. For $25, customers can get a Vcast Vpack, which includes both the mobile TV option as well as the rest of Verizon Wireless’ Vcast options such as Vcast video clips and mobile Web use. Separately, the options would cost $35 per month.
Wireless carriers have dabbled in mobile TV offerings for years, whether through live services running at slower speeds like those from MobiTV or through video clips from certain shows, like Jay Leno’s monologue from “The Tonight Show.” But Verizon’s launch marks the beginning of a full-fledged effort by carriers to offer robust TV services to their customers.
Verizon’s service service will offer shows from CBS, Comedy Central, Fox, MTV, NBC News, NBC Entertainment, Nickelodeon and other outlets.
Verizon’s mobile TV is available on the Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. SCH-a620 handset, now available via the Web and in stores in the launched markets. On the carrier’s Web site, the handset is offered for $150 after a $50 online discount. Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said that the carrier expects to offer its other announced mobile TV handset from LG Electronics Co. Ltd. “in a few weeks.”
The 20 live markets are: Chicago, Ill.; Denver and Colorado Springs, Col.; New Orleans, La.; Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; Seattle-Tacoma and Spokane, Wash.; Tucson, Ariz.; Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M.; Omaha-Lincoln, Neb.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Norfolk-Richmond, Va.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Palm Springs, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Wichita, Kan.; Las Vegas, Nev.; and Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo.
Nelson said that the initial markets were determined in part by where MediaFLO USA “had the rights to use the spectrum and set up the infrastructure for us to use.” Qualcomm’s MediaFLO effort is spending $800 million to build out markets where it owns spectrum.
“We expect to continue rolling out as quickly as possible, as airwaves are cleared and testing is conducted on the FLO sites, then we’ll go live,” Nelson said.
AT&T Inc.’s Cingular Wireless L.L.C. plans to launch mobile TV services using MediaFLO late this year, and both T-Mobile USA Inc. and Alltel Corp. are trialing the technology. Sprint Nextel Corp. trialed MediaFLO, but decided not to launch mobile TV services using the technology.


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