Verizon Launches 3G

TV and streaming content will go live on Verizon cell phones Feb. 1 when Verizon Wireless launched its VCAST system. Verizon refers to VCAST as "the nation's first third-generation (3G) wireless multimedia service for consumers," but MobiTV, which offers mobile access to around 22 cable channels, was launched on Sprint PCS Vision cell phones in November 2003.

VCAST also includes live 3D gaming and video-on-demand in addition to other regular full-motion video offerings. The services runs over the Verizon Wireless Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) network on new 3G phones. So far, there are three such phones; one from LG, another from Samsung and the third from UTStarcom. The EV-DO network, licensed from Qualcomm, was initially launched in limited markets for commercial broadband customers in October, 2003 and rendered average users speeds of 300 to 500 kbps.

VCAST content providers include VH1, Comedy Central, NBC, News Corp. and 20th Century Fox, which will deliver shows specifically designed for cell phones, including "24: Conspiracy," "Sunset Hotel" and "Love & Hate." NBC will also provide cell-phone specific news. VCAST service will be a $15 monthly premium in addition to the regular calling plan.

Dick Lynch, Verizon Wireless executive vice president and chief technical officer, said VCAST would be available "to cover 150 million Americans by the end of 2005."