Cingular Wireless, the biggest US wireless service, will use RealNetworks video streaming technology to deliver video to its subscribers’ mobile phones.
The agreement is an important win for RealNetworks, the Seattle-based software group, which has lagged behind its arch rival, Microsoft, in the race to persuade mobile carriers to adopt its streaming media technology.
Cingular’s biggest rival, Verizon Wireless, uses Microsoft’s media player for its V-Cast mobile video service that delivers news and entertainment video clips to customers over its 3G wireless data network.
Last week, Real launched its Rhapsody Radio streaming music service on Sprint Nextel’s mobile network.
US mobile operators, like their counterparts elsewhere, are racing to deliver video and other advanced services including music and video games to customers in an attempt to boost revenues and offset flat or declining prices for voice calls.
Cingular, jointly owned by SBC Communications and BellSouth and rolling out its own 3G network, plans a video service using RealNetworks HelixOnlineTV technology by year-end.
RealNetworks also plans to provide video content for the service.
As part of the agreement Real said Cingular’s customers would also be able to download games from its RealArcade catalogue on a subscription basis.
This week, Real said RealArcade would be available for O2 subscribers in the UK.
The deals, announced by Rob Glasier, Real’s chief executive, come as software vendors, mobile operators and content providers scramble for a share of the emerging mobile entertainment market.
Viacom’s MTV Networks said it would also provide Sprint with programming including VH1 and Comedy Central expanding the offerings currently available on Sprint’s multimedia phones.
Separately Edgar Bronfman, Warner Music’s chief executive, said Warner was planning agreements with wireless carriers for simultaneous music downloads to cell phones and computers.