Verizon Sends TV to 3G Phones

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On February 1, Verizon Wireless will start offering streaming video and 3D games to customers on its third-generation (3G) network, which now covers 30 U.S. markets, the company has announced at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Customers of the VCast service will be able to choose from among more than 300 daily updated videos, most of them 2 minutes to 5 minutes long, as well as premium content such as 3D games and music videos that will come at an additional cost. The basic service will cost $15 on top of the customer's regular calling plan.

Three handsets that support the service will be available beginning February 1, according to the company. They include the LG VX8000 from South Korea's LG Electronics, which was used in trials of the service in San Diego and Washington, D.C.; and phones from Samsung Telecommunications America and UTStarcom.

TV and Phone-Only Shows

"The promise of 3G technology is finally in the consumer's hands," Verizon President and CEO Dennis Strigl said at a CES news conference Friday.

Verizon's 3G network is based on Evolution Data-Only (EV-DO), a version of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology licensed from Qualcomm. It delivers 300 kilobits per second to 500 kbps of data throughput, according to the company. The network, launched commercially in late 2003, is being built with equipment from Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks.

VCast content will include news, sports, and entertainment video clips; games and music videos will be available for an additional cost. Customers will choose and access the content through Verizon's Get It Now virtual store. The choices will include videos from MTV Networks' VH1 and Comedy Central brands, as well as content offered through deals with News, 20th Century Fox, and broadcaster NBC Universal. Working with partners, they will even offer exclusive shows specifically designed for mobile phones, including 24: Conspiracy, Sunset Hotel, and Love & Hate, company representatives say. Programming taken directly from TV doesn't translate well to the small screen of a handset, Verizon executives said at the news conference.

Service Area Expands

Also Friday, Verizon announced it has expanded its EV-DO network to 12 more metropolitan areas and plans to have the network cover 150 million people by the end of this year. The new markets are Chicago; Houston; Boston; Phoenix; Providence, Rhode Island; Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida; Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut; and Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio.

Elsewhere in the country, Verizon offers voice and data service on a CDMA2000 1x service, which can deliver data at speeds similar to dial-up Internet access. More than one-third of the operator's customers currently take advantage of its data services, Strigl said. Verizon is the nation's second-largest mobile operator with approximately 42 million subscribers.

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