Verizon Wireless became the first U.S. carrier to deliver a service that streams television to mobile phones with the Thursday launch of its new Mobile TV on the MediaFLO network.
The service is available in three separate packages: four channels for US$13 per month; eight channels for $15; or eight channels plus unlimited access to the mobile Web and Verizon’s V Cast video service for $25.
“Television has revolutionized our culture,” Jeffrey Nelson, executive director of corporate communications at Verizon Wireless, told TechNewsWorld. “Wireless phones have become an integral part of our everyday lives, and V Cast Mobile TV represents the convergence of these two.”
Programming the Phones
The New York-based telecom’s eight channel lineup offers programming, including simulcasts, from CBS, Comedy Central, ESPN, Fox, MTV, NBC News, NBC Entertainment and Nickelodeon.
“It is great package that has something for everyone,” said Nelson.
For now, the V Cast Mobile TV services are available on two new handsets — the Samsung SCH-u620 and the LG VX9400, according to Verizon.
Wireless TV on the Rise
Verizon Wireless can expect plenty of competition in the emerging mobile TV space. AT&T is expected to launch its own service later in the year, while Samsung, LG Electronics andHTC have all begun delivering mobile-TV ready phones to the U.S market.
MediaFLO USA is a wholly owned subsidiary of chipmaker Qualcomm, which has reportedly invested about $800 million in the technology.
Mobile TV has been relatively slow to get off the ground because of network capacity and quality issues. However, technologies such as MediaFLO, which use separate overlay broadcast networks, are improving delivery.
The picture quality of the new service is comparable to home television viewing, Verizon said.
Cingular Wireless, a part of AT&T, also plans to use MediaFLO to deliver mobile TV, starting late in 2007. Sprint Nextel, which currently offers a video service over its 3G network, reportedly has been mulling a move to the network as well.
“V Cast Mobile TV isn’t just a placeholder for broadcast programming on the mobile phone — it is the best of television programmed specifically for the mobile customer with great programs, the way they were meant to be seen, on your mobile phone,” said John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Verizon.