Amp'd Gets Cranked

Startup mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Amp'd Mobile Inc. announced that it has so far raised $67 million in venture funding ahead of an autumn launch of its whiz-bang cellular services aimed at the youth (18-35) market in the U.S.

The firm is riding a wave of interest in the MVNO market --operators that piggyback on others' networks but control their own branded services -- following the success of Virgin Mobile USA LLC (see Virgin on the Ridiculous). Of course, it doesn't hurt that Amp'd is targeting the favored demographic of many advertisers, which happens to be an age range that is still seen as underserved by U.S. mobile operators (see Commentary: Beating the Saturation Blues).

The firm will use Verizon Wireless's 3G CDMA EV-DO (evolution, data-only!) network to work its multimedia magic. The firm promises users the "fastest downloads" of video, music, and 3D games -- and a bangin' migraine. [Ed. note: Okay, we made that last bit up, but your faithful correspondent burst a blood vessel just trying to load the damn Website.]

EV-DO networks offer realistic average download speeds of between 300 and 500 kbit/s and a theoretical peak data transfer rate of 2 Mbit/s. The kind of media-rich service that Amp'd is proposing would have been impossible before Verizon and its rivals started to install the very latest 3G networks this year (see Verizon Repeats on 3G and Sprint Confirms EV-DO Network).

Amp'd is now on its second round of funding but hasn't revealed exactly how much cash it raised in each round, only the total so far received. Investors include Columbia Capital, Highland Capital Partners, and Redpoint Ventures.

— Dan Jones, Youth Editor, Unstrung

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