Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!
Verizon launches its VCast mobile TV service
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. … Read more
Tuning in to VCast
Despite Verizon Wireless’ attempt to downplay the launch of its Vcast Mobile TV service, the availability of the streaming TV service in the Denver area forced-and I do mean forced-a quick trip to the mall so we could check out the new offering. Verizon Wireless launched the service March 1, but did nothing to promote the news-an odd departure from the carrier’s standard promotional efforts. The service runs over Qualcomm Inc.’s MediaFLO network. The salesperson at a Denver Verizon Wireless store said the store had received shipments of the initial Vcast Mobile TV handset-Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s U620-last week, and was given the go-ahead to begin selling the device by early afternoon on March 1. The phone is a regular slider-style handset, which means a good-sized screen hiding a rather cramped keypad underneath. But the magic happened when I launched the handset’s retractable antenna-with the push of a button that sports an outline of a TV with rabbit ears sprouting from the top. The basic service offers CBS, Fox, NBC, NBC News, Comedy Central, ESPN, MTV and Nickelodeon, and presents a channel guide similar to cable or satellite television services. Once selected, channels were rendered within a second or two and the sound synched up perfectly with the video. The full-screen option expanded the picture horizontally, making it easier to watch. The service’s picture quality was definitely a step above today’s mobile television offerings, including the streaming services from companies like MobiTV and the downloadable clips from Verizon Wireless’ own Vcast video service. There was very little buffering, though the oddly placed and seemingly easy-to-damage antenna definitely improved reception once extended. … Read more
Everybody loves mobile TV … right?
California is sprinkled with television studios, and while many of the traditional Hollywood studios already have or are in the process of creating separate divisions for endeavors in the mobile TV space, a small group of entertainment companies have been built with mobile in mind from day one. GoTV Networks Inc., MobiTV Inc. and Amp’d Mobile Inc. are three California-based media companies that are making their mark in this emerging industry while many are scrambling to target the mobile audience, which is fast becoming the next battlefield in media. The future of mobile television is clearly at a crossroads–indeed, it may require a level of self-imposed directive on the part of studios before large swaths of consumers warm to the idea of watching TV on a small screen at a price that sustains the new medium. While the category continues to be built and driven by competing technologies, the unknown factor is further evidenced by the fact that the nation’s two largest carriers continue to offer mobile TV applications via their networks while each plans to launch broadcast mobile TV via a third-party’s network. … Read more
Well, everybody really loves SMS and MMS
Verizon Wireless rolled out a pair of new messaging plans to meet the growing popularity of text, picture and video messaging among its customers. The carrier’s new $15 plan includes 1,500 messages instead of the previous 1,000 messages, and a new $20 plan gives a user 5,000 messages instead of the previous 2,500 for that price. Both plans include unlimited messaging among Verizon Wireless customers. Any message that bring the user’s total messages above the monthly allotment will cost 10 cents each, while customers without a messaging plan will pay 15 cents for each message sent or received. Verizon Wireless customers can contact customer care or manage their account online to upgrade their messaging plan; there is no contract extension required. … Read more
The trials of would-be handset kings
Three of the top six handset vendors in the world lost market share last year, as did the “other” category that captures the multitude of second-tier vendors determined to swim upstream against a strong current. That current is generated by the momentum that scale and aggressive business models afford: Nokia Corp., Motorola Inc. and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications L.P.-the world’s number one, two and four vendors by volume-all gained share last year. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., LG Electronics Co. Ltd. and BenQ Mobile all lost share, with BenQ plummeting from the top tier after shuttering European and Latin American businesses and retreating to Taiwan and Asian markets. Meanwhile, growth in the handset market is forecast to slow this year, though global volumes will top 1 billion for the first time, according to market data released by Gartner Inc., which provided the market share figures. Gartner forecast that handset sales will reach 1.2 billion. Earlier this week, CIBC World Markets analyst Ittai Kidron raised his own forecast to 1.12 billion for this year, a 14.3-percent increase over 2006 but reflecting slower growth than the 21 percent growth between 2006 and the prior year. Kidron forecast that Nokia and Sony Ericsson would make the greatest gains in volume and share. Motorola, the analyst forecast, would maintain share this year before gaining again in 2008. Market share gains and losses, in general, show that the mobile handset business has matured and opportunities are narrowing for those who would be handset kings. … Read more
WiMAX in Texas
The city of Brownsville, Texas, has tapped IBM Corp. to build a $4 million citywide WiMAX network. The network will be used by police and fire departments as well as residents, and will support data, voice and video applications. A nonprofit group will be established to provide high-speed wireless access to “geographically dispersed and economically diverse end users.” Rioplex Wireless, a South Texas mobile broadband company, will maintain the three-tower network. IBM will also help the city develop and implement a disaster-recovery plan. “We’re growing at a record pace, and the best way for Brownsville to provide city services is by embracing new technology,” said Charlie Cabler, Brownsville’s city manager. … Read more
Helio touts new Samsung phone … and Wikipedia!
Mobile virtual network operator Helio L.L.C. added a new phone to its lineup, the “Heat” from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. The slider-style phone supports Helio’s full-track music download service and GPS location offerings, as well as touch-sensitive keys. The phone is selling for $150. “Young people want more than their parents’ off-the-shelf ‘phone’,” said Sky Dayton, CEO of Helio. “Helio members are driving today’s trends in clothes, music and social networking and mobile is no different. With Heat, we’re delivering another exclusive device with a blend of unique design and high technology they can call their own.” The Heat joins Helio’s previously released Drift phone, also from Samsung. Gone from the MVNO’s handset lineup are the Hero from Pantech Corp. and the Kickflip from VK Mobile. Asian handset vendor VK Mobile went bankrupt last year. In other Helio news, the MVNO announced it will offer wireless access to popular Internet sites including Boing Boing, Digg, Metroblogging and Wikipedia. … Read more
Precursor plans to FirstNet
A TRIO OF WIRELESS VETERANS UNVEILED A NEW PLAN for a national public-safety broadband network that would use auctioned 700 MHz spectrum to supplement first-responder frequencies in the same band. Frontline Wireless L.L.C. filed its proposal with the Federal Communications Commission last week. Haynes Griffin, who founded Vanguard Cellular, is CEO of the startup. Janice Obuchowski, former head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is chairman of Frontline, and former FCC chairman Reed Hundt serves as vice chairman of the company. “Through a true public safety-commercial partnership, Frontline’s plan provides a solution to the still-unresolved hurdles to interoperable communications faced by first responders, including the continued need for more spectrum,” said Obuchowski. Frontline, which has put together an investor group to bid on 700 MHz spectrum at an auction scheduled for later this year, wants the FCC to designate a portion of commercial 700 MHz spectrum-perhaps 13 megahertz-adjacent to public-safety frequencies in the band for a national first-responder broadband network. Under Frontline’s plan, which would require FCC approval, public-safety agencies would have priority access to the commercial broadband spectrum during emergencies, and the network would be open to other entities such as regional wireless carriers on a wholesale basis. Police, firefighters, medics and other public-safety entities would have local control of communications over the network. The network would be built by the private sector. … Read more
Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.