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Sprint Adds Interactive Web Radio

Overland Park, Kan. — Sprint became the first U.S. cellular carrier to offer an interactive Web-radio service by cellphone.

Through select CDMA 1x EV-DO phones, Sprint lets users access Pandora’s Web-radio service, previously available only on PCs, for $2.99/month on top of a user’s data plan after a free 30-day trial. Pandora’s service, whether accessed by PC or cellphone, lets users create up to 100 personalized music channels by entering the name of a song or artist. The service then creates a personalized radio station that continuously streams songs with similar musical attributes, including melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics and vocals, a Sprint spokesman said.

In a related development, Oakland, Calif.-based Pandora became available through the Sonos wireless multi-room-audio system without a network connection to a PC.

Although Sprint is the first carrier to offer it, interactive Web radio has been available to cellphone users since late last year through a third-party application for Windows Mobile-based smartphones and PDA-phones. The M subscription service, launched by a three-year-old music-streaming Web site, lets subscribers select streams sorted by more than 700 genres and subgenres from a library of more than 3.5 million songs.

With the Pandora launch, Sprint offers 13 music services, one of which is Sprint Radio and is included in a subscriber’s data plan. Sprint Radio offers 50 channels, mainly music but including some video channels. Sprint also offers 20 channels of Sirius Satellite Radio and channels from Real Networks’ online Rhapsody service.

Pandora already offers free service to more than 6.5 million people who access an ad-supported version of the site. Consumers who sign up through Sprint get access to an ad-free version of the site by PC and by phone. Subscribers can create stations directly from the phone or by PC.

The Pandora client is available on five Sprint phones: LG’s FUSIC by LG, the Samsung A900 and A920, and the Sanyo7500 and 8400 by Sanyo. By the end of June, Pandora will be available on all Sprint EV-DO phones.

Sprint users can bookmark a song for later over-the-air download from the Sprint Music Store, which offers more than 1.6 million songs at 99 cents each with a EV-DO data plan.

For listeners at home, Pandora became available through Sonos’s wireless multi-room audio system without a network connection to a PC that’s on and running. Last September, Santa Barbara, Calf.-based enabled its system to access Real Networks’s Rhapsody interactive-streaming service at $10/month without a PC connection.

Sonos users get a free 30-day trial to Pandora. After that, a $36 annual subscription enables users to stream up to 32 different Pandora stations simultaneously to 32 different rooms, although users can create up to 100 personalized channels.

In another Sonos announcement, its new 2.2 software includes improved music services support, more alarm clock choices, improved Internet radio reliability with automatic connection restart, and FLAC album art support.