Windows Media goes mobile with Verizon

Verizon Wireless has selected Microsoft's Windows Media format for its new V CAST mobile multimedia service, the companies said Wednesday.

Starting Feb. 1, Verizon's V CAST users will have access to audio and video clips encoded in Windows Media, Verizon and Microsoft said in a statement. Verizon announced the launch of its 3G (third-generation) network and the V CAST service earlier this month at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

While other mobile operators offer Windows Media players on their handsets, Verizon is the first to offer a multimedia service based entirely on Windows Media technology, said Neil Sharma, a business development manager at Microsoft. Competitors in the space include RealNetworks and Apple Computer Inc.

In addition to Microsoft's Windows Media technology, the V CAST service uses products from Microsoft partners ThePlatform for Media for encoding and delivering the content while PacketVideo supplied the player for the handsets, Sharma said.

To use the V CAST service, Verizon customers need a special handset. Three handsets that support the service will be available beginning Feb. 1: the LG VX8000 from South Korea's LG Electronics, which was used in tests of the service in San Diego and Washington, D.C., and phones from Samsung Telecommunications America and UTStarcom.

The V CAST service will cost US$15 on top of the regular calling plan and offer access to more than 300 daily updated video clips from providers including MTV Networks, NewsCorp, 20th Century Fox and broadcaster NBC Universal, Verizon has said.

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