Cingular Launches 3G Phones, Video Service

Cingular Wireless today took the wraps off Cingular Video a new on-demand video service for two new 3G mobile phones. For $20 a month, subscribers will be able to download entertainment, news, sports, weather, and other video clips, as well as segments of their favorite shows from networks like ABC, NBC, Fox, CNN, ESPN, Disney, and the Cartoon Network. For an extra $5 a month, users will also be able to access short 3-5 minute clips of HBO programming like The Sopranos.

Cingular Video will initially be available via Cingular’s high-speed data network, currently operational in 16 cities: Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle-Tacoma, and Washington D.C. Cingular plans to roll out 3G service to more markets during 2006.

For the moment, Cingular offers 3G service on the LG CU320 and Samsung SGH-ZX10 handsets, but plans to add support for the Nokia 6882 and the LG CU500 before the second half of 2006. With a two-year service plan, prices for handsets start at $99 (after a $50 mail-in rebate).

“Cingular Video offers the highest degree of personalization and the widest selection of desirable content in the U.S. market,” said Sam Hall, Cingular’s Mobile Browse and Developer Program VP. “The service is designed with today’s mobile consumer in mind and users are never more than a few clicks from their favorite programs.”

Behind the scenes, Cingular Video uses RealNetworks’ Helix OnlineTV technology; on screen, Cingular Video is set up similarly to Cingular’s MEdia Net wireless Internet service: users create a personalized home page with up to three links to favorite video sites. The service also automatically streams localized weather information to a personal “News &’ Weather” page every day.

Implicitly contrasting itself with Verizon’s VCast service, Cingular claims the widest swath of basic-service video offerings