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AT&T Bringing Satellite TV to Vehicles

AT&T, in association with RaySat Broadcasting Corp., has taken the wraps off CruiseCast, a new in-vehicle system that promises to bring subscribers both satellite radio and satellite television while they’re on the go…all using a low-profile "breakthrough" antenna that can be mounted on the roof of a car, truck, or SUV. The announcement came at the auto trade show SEMA, rather than at this week’s CES extravaganza—but they’re both in Las Vegas.

"AT&T CruiseCast is a significant advancement from what is in the market today—both in terms of technology and channel offerings," said RaySat Broadcasting president Winston Guillory, in a statement. "We see this as opening up an exciting new source of accessory revenue for the automotive manufacturer, accessory distributors, and the local auto dealerships…one that will make quality total in-car entertainment a reality for the end consumer."

AT&T says it will have a lineup of 22 channels when the service debuts in spring 2009, featuring programming from Disney, Discovery, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, USA, Comedy Central, MSNBC, CNN, and CNBC. The service will also offer twnety satellite music channels, and AT&T says the service has the capacity to add additional channels.

CruiseCast operates using a small pod-like antenna that attaches to the roof of a vehicle; the antenna is paired with a receiver installed in the vehicle itself, which in turn connects to existing in-car audio and video systems. The antenna weighs only three pounds, but it’s a pretty noticeable bump on the top of a vehicle, measuring 11.3 by 10.3 by 4.3 inches.

CruiseCast service will be sold through auto dealerships and automotive service vendors, with installation first limited to sedans, SUVs, and minivans that are outfitted with roof racks; installation mounts for additional vehicle types will be available in the future. The CruiseCast system will carry a suggested price of $1299; service will cost an additional $28 per month.

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