Verizon Wireless, one of the nation's largest mobile phone operators, last week launched commercial mobile television service in 20 states.
The new venture, a partnership of Verizon and Vodafone Group, uses MediaFLO wireless transmission technology developed by QUALCOMM. The service promises to deliver eight channels of broadcast quality, full-length television programming around the clock for a subscription fee of $15 a month.
The picture quality of the new service will be equal to what consumers now get in their homes (in SD digital) and roughly twice as clear as Verizon Wireless's existing VCAST video service, Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson told Reuters.
Samsung's model U620 mobile phone supports MediaFLO. Verizon plans to add a video-capable model by LG Electronics in a few weeks.
AT&T has said it will roll out similar MediaFLO technology later this year.
Reuters reported that mobile video services, first launched in the United States in 2004, currently have only about 7 million customers out of about 232 million mobile subscriptions. Ovum analyst Roger Entner predicted, however, that the higher-quality pictures provided by MediaFLO could change that over time.
Entner told Reuters that the initial impact on consumers would be modest, but he predicts that MediaFLO users could increase to 20 million to 30 million people within seven years.