Cricket Readies Unlimited Music Downloads

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San Diego - Prepaid carrier

Cricket Communications

said it will become the first U.S. carrier to bundle unlimited music downloads into a wireless rate plan when it launches it

Muve Music

service in January.

 The service will initially be available exclusively on a $199-suggested 3G Samsung Suede feature phone, which will be displayed at Cricket's CES display in South Hall 4, upper level, Room S210 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

 The unlimited over-the-air music downloads are included in a new $55/month prepaid plan, which also provides unlimited nationwide calling; unlimited nationwide text, picture and video messaging; unlimited global text messaging; unlimited 3G mobile Web; unlimited email, unlimited data back up, and unlimited video. The music downloads include full songs, ringtones, and ringback tones.

 The service features a catalog of millions of songs from the four major record labels: Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music. Music is downloaded over the cellular airwaves without a digital rights management (DRM) technology to provide a better user experience, better handset performance, and better battery life, the carrier said. All songs, however, are locked via SanDisk technology to an included 4GB memory card, although users are allowed to share their songs with other Muve users.

The service will be available in January exclusively on the $199-suggested 3G Samsung Suede feature phone with 3-inch touchscreen, HTML web browser, virtual QWERTY keyboard, and a dedicated music button that launches the Muve Music application. The phone operates on Cricket's CDMA2000 1X and 1xEV-DO wireless networks.

Though a 4GB memory card is included with the phone, consumers will also be able to buy additional cards that incorporate SanDisk's technology. 8GB cards will also be available.

In February 2009, Cricket became the first prepaid carrier in the U.S. to launch over-the-air music downloads.

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