Verizon Wireless Gets Tuneful

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LAS VEGAS -- Verizon Wireless plan to make it easier for its customers to get tunes into their cell phones. On January 16th, the company will launch its V Cast Music service, an online music store where customers can download songs directly to their phones or to Microsoft Windows XP PCs.

At launch, the V Cast Music service will feature about 500,000 songs from four major labels, as well as tunes from The Orchard, a distributor of independent music, according to a Verizon press release. Customers will be able to download music to their PCs for 99 cents per song or buy them over the air on their phones for $1.99 per song. Verizon says that when buyers download to a phone, they will get two copies of the song, one for the phone and one for the PC. Users can synchronize songs from the PC to the phone via USB.

In addition to songs from V Cast Music, any MP3 or WMA (Windows Media Audio) song stored on the customer's PC can be transferred to the phone, says Bill Stone, vice president of marketing at Verizon.

Albums will also be available for downloading to a PC, at varying prices. The music will be copy-protected using Microsoft DRM (digital rights management) technology, Verizon says.

At launch, you'll be able to use the V Cast Music service with several phones, including LG Electronics' VX8100 and Samsung's SCH-a950.

Immediate Gratification

Customers will pay for a direct-to-phone download when they urgently want a particular song and don't want to wait to get back to the computer, says Verizon's Stone. Within a few weeks, Verizon expects to have 1 million songs available, he says.

V Cast Music will include tunes from Warner Music Group, EMI Group, Universal Music Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment, according to Verizon.

The service will be available over Verizon's cellular network to 150 million U.S. residents, according to the company. The V Cast service was launched last year with video and games offerings.

V Cast, which runs on Verizon Wireless's EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) network, costs $15 per month. The EV-DO network offers average downstream speeds of 400K bps (bits per second) to 700K bps and is available in 180 metropolitan areas in the United States. Customers anywhere can subscribe to V Cast and use it while in EV-DO coverage areas. You can subscribe to the service at Verizon Wireless's Web site, through its stores, or at Circuit City stores.

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