MediaFLO TV to go live next month

Following a year after the launch of rival Verizon Wireless, AT&T will debut live mobile TV over the MediaFLO network in May, the carrier has announced.

The two largest U.S. carriers have both embraced MediaFLO technology from QUALCOMM, even as the European Union rallies around DVB-H, a standard backed by Nokia and others.

Earlier, in February 2007, when AT&T announced it would launch the MediaFLO technology, it set a date in the last quarter of 2007. The company has yet to explain the delay.

QUALCOMM developed the technology for broadcasting video and information over a network that is separate from the mobile telephony system. MediaFLO USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of QUALCOMM, built an American network that uses former TV channels. The technology can handle both live and delayed broadcasts.

AT&T said it will offer FLO on two new handsets, the Vu from LG Electronics and the Access from Samsung Electronics. Programming will include shows from CBS Mobile, Fox Mobile, NBC 2GO, NBC News2Go, MTV, Comedy Central, ESPN Mobile TV and Nickelodeon, as well as two other channels that will be unique to AT&T.

Sony Pictures Television said it will become the first Hollywood studio to offer full-length movies to AT&T. Titles will be streamed with advertisements in a loop and not be available on-demand.

Otherwise, both wireless services have the same basic program fare. Verizon offers a package of eight channels for $15 per month. For $25, it adds the V Cast V Pack, which includes unlimited airtime, e-mail and basic video clips. A limited package costs $13 per month and includes just Fox Mobile, NBC, NBC News and CBS Mobile.

Also, last week, Verizon announced two exclusive channels: ESPN Radio and MTV Tr3s, a bilingual TV channel. The Verizon service is available in more than 50 markets across the United States.

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