Mobile Video

Sprint Touts Cheap Mobile TV on WiMax & 3G

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has long had a mobile television offering, but it hasn't always made a big deal about it, something the carrier wants to change as the topic took center stage at this week's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas.

Sprint is now positioning its MobiTV Inc. -powered Sprint TV service as cheaper and more extensive than the competition with the added bonus of faster service using mobile WiMax. In a press release issued Thursday, Sprint also introduced an online channel guide for consumers to browse their on-demand and live options, including latest-addition ESPN.

In working with MobiTV, Sprint has deviated from its larger competitors AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless , which both use Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)'s FLO TV technology. (See FLO TV to Expand Its Offering.) Otherwise, the service is fairly similar, but Sprint is the only carrier that can claim a proto-4G mobile TV service using Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR)'s network.

In addition to 24 currently available mobile phones, Sprint TV will be a feature offered on its first-ever WiMax smartphone, the HTC EVO, announced at CTIA as "the first device to really exploit mobile video." The carrier said WiMax, currently available in 28 cities, will let consumers watch high-quality streaming video and download videos in seconds -- "up to 10 times faster than 3G." The HTC EVO will launch sometime this summer. (See CTIA 2010: Sprint Goes Supersonic.)

The third-largest US carrier requires its customers to have an "Everything Data" or "Simply Everything" plan to get the service, which includes 21 channels as part of the basic package. It charges $10 per month for a premium package of 25 extra channels. The standard lineup of on-demand and live programming features big names like ABC, CBS, and NBC, children’s programming, news, sports, and weather. AT&T Mobile TV costs users $9.99 per month for 14 channels, and Verizon charges $15 per month for 12 channels for Verizon V CAST Mobile TV, Sprint says.

Also at the NAB show, which ends today, the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), an alliance of local broadcasters, announced it is all set for a May 3 trial of broadcast mobile digital TV service in Washington. The trial -- the first large-scale one to be completed in the US -- will include access to over-the-air local programming that mirrors a traditional TV service. Sprint will be participating in the trial, which will use the Samsung Moment, the only mobile phone that includes the necessary mobile DTV chipset.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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