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AT&T Wireless Launches i-mode Service

U.S. wireless carrier AT&T Wireless (AWE) Tuesday rolled out a suite of wireless consumer services based on i-mode technology developed by Japan's NTT DoCoMo.

AWE said that its service, dubbed mMode, provides consumers with a variety of communication, information and entertainment services. The services include e-mail, news, weather and sports and games, according to the company.

"We have created mMode to show consumers they can do a lot more with wireless phones than just talk," Andre Dahan, president of AT&T Wireless' mobile multimedia services unit, said in a statement.

Initially, the service is available in about twelve markets with additional markets being added through the year, the company said. In addition, AWE said in its announcement that it will be adding services including digital photo messaging and more e-mail and instant messaging options in coming months.

The interface divides the services into those that connect, entertain and manage the offered services, the company said. "Connect" includes services such as instant messaging and e-mail, "entertain" offers access to games and has services such as sports scores and "manage" provides services such as personalized calendars and finding phone numbers.

Pricing is based on volume of data, with plans starting at $2.99 per month. The service works with GSM/GPRS-compatible phones designed to support i-mode offered. AWE said it is offering three such phones: Sony Ericsson T68, the Nokia 8390 and the Motorola Timeport P7382I.

DoCoMo made its i-mode services wildly popular in Japan, where there are more than 30 million subscribers. It purchased a 16 percent stake in AWE last year, requiring the operator to switch from its TDMA network to GSM/GPRS and to offer i-mode services. DoCoMo has made similar investments in other wireless operators worldwide, and those operators also have either launched i-mode services or are expected to.

Despite the success of i-mode in Japan, wireless content and data services have yet to succeed in the U.S.

David Haskin is managing editor of sister site allNetDevices.