CES : Verizon to launch mobile music service

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Verizon Wireless Inc. later this month will launch an online music store where customers can download songs directly to their phones and to Microsoft Corp. Windows XP PCs.

At its planned launch date of Jan. 16, the V Cast Music service will feature about 500,000 songs from four major labels and The Orchard, a distributor of independent music, according to a Verizon press release. Customers will be able to download music to their PCs for US$0.99 per song or buy them over the air on their phones for $1.99 per song. When they download to the phone, customers will get two copies of the song, one for the phone and one for the PC, according to Verizon. In addition, users will be able to synchronize songs from the PC to the phone via USB (Universal Serial Bus).

Customers will pay for a direct-to-phone download when they urgently want a particular song and don’t want to wait to get back to the PC, said Bill Stone, vice president of marketing at Verizon. In addition to songs from V Cast music, any MP3 or WMA (Windows Media Audio) song stored on the customer’s PC can be transferred to the phone, he said.

The store will include music from major labels Warner Music Group, EMI Group PLC, Universal Music Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment, according to Verizon. Within a few weeks, Verizon expects to have 1 million songs available, Stone said.

Albums will also be available for downloading to a PC, at varying prices. The music will be copy-protected using Microsoft DRM (digital rights management) technology, Verizon said.

The service was announced Thursday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It was scheduled to be demonstrated during a keynote address by Ivan Seidenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of Verizon Communications Inc., parent company of Verizon Wireless.

The service will be available over Verizon’s cellular network to 150 million U.S. residents, the company said. The V Cast service was launched last year with video and games offerings. At launch, several phones will be available that work with V Cast Music, including the LG Electronics Inc. VX8100 and the Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. a950.

The V Cast service, which runs on Verizon Wireless’s EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) network, costs $15 per month. The EV-DO network offers average downstream speeds of 400K bps (bits per second) to 700K bps and is available in 180 U.S. metropolitan areas. Customers anywhere can subscribe to V Cast and use it while in EV-DO coverage areas, he said. V Cast Music will be available through Verizon Wireless stores and Circuit City stores, and online. The music store will be online, but as this story was posted, that URL was not yet working.

Also in his speech, Seidenberg is set to announce the expansion of Verizon’s Fios TV service, which runs over a network in which fiber-optic cable is connected directly to homes and businesses. Fios was first launched in Keller, Texas last year. Seidenberg will announce it is expanding to additional communities in Texas, according to a company press release.

This story, "CES : Verizon to launch mobile music service" was originally published by PCWorld.

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