By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Verizon Wireless will launch its first consumer-oriented EV-DO services on Feb. 1 in conjunction with its first three new EV-DO handsets.
The services take the form of streaming videoclips, graphics-intense 3D games that can be downloaded, and unlimited browsing of Web sites marked up specifically for small-screen devices.
Previously, access to Verizon's EV-DO network was available only through portable computing devices equipped with EV-DO PC Cards, which download data at average speeds of 300kbps to 500kbps, the company said.
The carrier also announced the addition of 12 more markets to its EV-DO network, bringing the service to 32 markets, or one-third of its network, as publicly promised a year ago, the company said. "Promise made. Promise kept," said executive VP/chief technical officer Dick Lynch said. Verizon promised to double EV-DO availability to 150 million consumers by the end of 2006, up from 75 million.
Access to the consumer services, dubbed VCAST, costs $15.99 on top of a voice plan. The price includes unlimited access to more than 300 daily updated videos, including news, weather, sports and entertainment programming. The price also includes unlimited Web browsing via a handset-based browser and access to extra-cost content, including music videos and 3D game downloads playable on three high-performance handsets available at launch. Content sources include MTV Networks' VH1 and Comedy Central brands. A relationship with News Corp. and 20th Century Fox will deliver exclusive programs, such as “24: Conspiracy,” “Sunset Hotel” and “Love & Hate.” NBC will provide content as well, including newscasts made exclusively for mobile phones.
The plan does not include SMS or MMS messaging, nor is any live programming from TV rebroadcast over the wireless network. Nor do the phones allow for a laptop connection to access standard Web sites.
The frame rate of the video is a true 15 fps, whereas rival Sprint PCS has overstated the 15 fps said to be achievable on its CDMA 1x network via Samsung's MM-A700 handset, Verizon claimed. Before it was purchased by Cingular, AT&T Wireless C claimed 12 fps rates on its EDGE network and 15 fps on its W-CDMA network
With the VCAST launch, Verizon customers will be able to access VCAST services on three new phones available from LG Mobile Phones, Samsung and UTStarcom. One of the phones, the LG VX8000, features full-motion video with audio downloading and playback capabilities. Customers can capture 15-second videos and still photos and send them to other Verizon Wireless customers with video messaging-capable phones or to any e-mail address.
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