AT&T launches long-awaited U.S. mobile TV service

AT&T on Sunday launched its much-anticipated mobile TV service, effectively going head to head with rival U.S. carriers Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel, both of which have a similar offering.

The service, which uses the MediaFLO USA FLO TV platform, offers programming from several broadcast news and entertainment brands, including CBS Mobile, ESPN Mobile TV, FOX Mobile, NBC 2Go, NBC News 2Go, MTV Networks' Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon. While the lineup is virtually identical to the offering from Verizon (which also uses FLO TV), AT&T’s programming features two channels exclusive to the carrier, Sony Pictures Television’s PIX and CNN Mobile Live.

Verizon’s service offers two exclusive channels: ESPN Radio and MTV Tr3s, a bilingual TV channel.

AT&T is offering the service on two new handsets developed specifically for the service, LG’s VU and Samsung’s Access. The VU service features an interactive touch screen similar to the iPhone, while Access has an internal antenna to ensure good reception.

The service launch comes more than year after Verizon debuted V CAST. Although AT&T originally planned to unveil the service in the last quarter of 2007, it delayed the launch for undisclosed reasons.

Currently, mobile television attracts fewer than 10 percent of all subscribers in the United States. Most content is material edited down from conventional TV fare.

AT&T Mobile TV will launch in 58 markets including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The Verizon V CAST service is currently live in 51 markets.

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