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Sprint PCS Offers Much Higher Rate Video Streaming

Sprint PCS upgraded the quality of its videostreaming services to deliver “true streaming video” direct to handsets at up to 15 frames per second (fps), exceeding the carrier’s previously available maximum of 1 fps to 2 fps and closing in on television’s 30 fps rate.

The upgraded service lets subscribers access more than 600 audio and video clips, which run up to a few minutes in length and are refreshed throughout the day. The clips are accessible nationwide through the carrier’s current CDMA 1X network, but only to subscribers using Samsung’s new MM-A700 handset, available at $249 after rebate. That handset contains the requisite processing power and embedded media player needed to deliver near-TV-like full motion video, Sprint said.

Sprint’s announcement follows the recent announcement that AT&T Wireless is offering video-clip streaming nationwide at a consistent 12 fps through Nokia’s $299 6620 phone, which is equipped with Real Player software and high-speed EDGE wireless-data technology. For the past year, AT&T’s video-clip service has been available at a consistent 7 fps to users of the GPRS-equipped Nokia 3650 phone, also featuring Real Player software, an AT&T spokesman contended.

Also in recent weeks, AT&T Wireless rolled out 15 fps video streaming in its four W-CDMA markets, exceeding the 7 fps to 10 fps rates that a company executive previously claimed.

At Sprint PCS, the carrier launched 11 video-clip channels to start, with more to come. The first include three free channels available to subscribers of Sprint data plans: 20th Century Fox movie trailers, a free preview channel previewing all channels and an Olympics channel (available through August 29). Additional channels are available a la carte with any data plan at $3.95/month and $4.95/month, with one channel at $9.99/month. Paid channels include CNNtoGO, Fox Sports, The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, E! Entertainment and Sprint TV, which is the sole $9.99/month channel. It delivers a compilation of content from NBC, Fox Sports, the Weather Channel and other providers.

A multimedia plan at $25/month combines unlimited access to the Sprint TV channel plus picture mail, video mail, web browsing, and 100 SMS messages.

Sprint’s previously available live streaming service called MobiTV operates at about 5fps with the new phone, up from at 1 fps to 2 fps on other Sprint phones. Later this year, Sprint hopes to boost MobiTV’s $9.99/month service up to 15 fps, enabling subscribers to view live broadcasts of such sources as MSNBC.

Samsung’s clamshell MM-A700 is a dual-band trimode model featuring 1-megapixel camera with video-aperture capability. Its standard battery delivers up to four hours of talk time, nine days of standby time and about 2.5 hours of streaming time.