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Cellphones Turn Into Pocket-Size Radios

Atlanta — Cingular Wireless is another cellular carrier betting that cellphones will become the next pocket-size transistor radio.

Cingular plans on Nov. 6 to begin streaming 25 commercial-free XM Satellite Radio music channels to select handsets for $8.99/month. In August, carrier AllTel announced a similar service, which streams 20 XM commercial-free music channels at $7.99/month.

Late last year, Sprint began streaming 21 Sirius Satellite Radio channels and launched a subscription-based Rhapsody Radio in conjunction with Real Networks’s Rhapsody Internet-based streaming service. The additions brought Sprint’s selection of subscription-based music services to four.

A few months ago, radio broadcaster Clear Channel announced plans to stream up to 100 of its radio stations to cellular phones over the next 12 months. The service became available initially through Cingular, but Clear Channel hoped to offer it through Verizon and Sprint by the end of the year. Users pay $3.98 per month for the service, which is billed to their Cingular wireless phone account.

For its XM service, Cingular streams channels that can be selected by genre. Genres include The 70s, 80s and 90s decades channels, Top 20 on 20 (Top 20 Hits), Lucy (Classic Alternative Hits), The City (Hip-Hop/R&B Hits), XMU (Indie Rock), Bluesville (Blues), America (Classic Country Hits), and Viva (Latin Pop Hits). Song titles, artist name, and album name will appear on the compatible handsets.

With the ClearChannel service, Cingular subscribers purchase a cellular streaming subscription for a given radio station via the station’s Web site. Users pay $3.98 per month for the service, which is billed to their Cingular wireless phone account. The subscription enables them to stream music from the stations to their cellular phone as well as download a list of the last 10 songs played. They can also send music requests to the station and receive notification 15 minutes before the request is played.