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Cingular Hits Play on Video Service

Cingular Wireless became the latest mobile carrier to put broadband video into its service picture, announcing Tuesday that it has launched Cingular Video in 16 markets.

The service, riding on the Atlanta-based mobile carrier’s broadband “Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service (UMTS)” network, features a generous menu of three- to five-minute on-demand video clips from ESPN, Fox Sports, Disney Channel, Home Box Office and Cable News Network, among others. It follows similar launches by rival mobile carriers Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Wireless.

Cingular Video is now available in Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Las Vegas; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City; San Diego; San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; Tacoma, Wash.; and Washington, D.C.

Cingular has plans to extend its UMTS market to reach 100 markets by the end of this year, and it will similarly extend Cingular Video in additional markets as the UMTS network becomes available.

Customers who tap Cingular Video must sign up for the $19.99 “Media Net Unlimited” data package. That gives them unlimited access to the bulk of the Cingular Video content, including exclusive video clips from Fox News Channel and what Cingular claims to be the most comprehensive exclusive sports-coverage lineup of any wireless carrier, with video from ESPN, Fox Sports, Fuel and Speed.

Other video content includes trailers of popular shows, including ABC’s Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy and Lost; CNN’s “Now in the News” hourly updates; Disney Classic animated shorts; and NBC news, headlines and video clips from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Access Hollywood.

It also will offer premium content from HBO Mobile and HBO Family Mobile, including episodes of popular programs such as The Sopranos. HBO content is offered for an added $4.99 monthly, while HBO Family Mobile will be priced at $2.99 monthly.

The lineup will also expand soon to include content from CBS SportsLine (cbs.sportsline.com), NASCAR.com (www.nascar.com) and Turner Classic Movies.

Cingular Video will offer customers a personalized home page with up to three links for their favorite video sites. It can also be preset to automatically stream local weather information to the customer’s news and weather page daily.

Cingular is using RealNetworks Inc.’s “Helix Online TV” platform as the base for the video delivery. Helix includes an array of servers, mobile gateways, the Helix digital-rights-management scheme and mobile-video-production tools.

"Cingular Video offers the highest degree of personalization and the widest selection of desirable content in the U.S. market," said Sam Hall, vice president of Cingular’s mobile browse and developer program. "The service is designed with today's mobile consumer in mind, and users are never more than a few clicks from their favorite programs."