Verizon’s V CAST begins 3G phone chase in U.S.

The company has officially launched its Video-Capable Wireless Phone Service (V CAST) in 30 major metropolitan markets. The third-generation wireless (3G) broadband multimedia service offers subscribers everything from clips of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and news updates from NBC News to music videos. CNN and Fox are also onboard.

I’ve often moaned about how far behind we are in 3G development, and there’s still a rather big fly in the Verizon ointment. The service is an extra 15 bucks a month on top of regular Verizon charges. This is called an “access fee,” which means just what it says. Included in the “package” (don’t you love that term?) is unlimited access to free — advertiser-supported — content. Premium services will be offered for other fees, but here’s where it gets interesting.

V CAST is a broadband multimedia service, but it’s still coming via cellphone, for which you also pay considerable charges based on minutes used. Cellphone minutes is the bread and butter income of U.S. cellular services, and that doesn’t change with 3G. Your “access” to all this cool video doesn’t include the minutes you’ll be using to watch it all, so look for stories of outrageous cellphone bills down-the-road.

We need CPP (Calling Party Pays) in this country, so that business models can be developed wherein video providers can call at selected times and feed their content without the end user paying for it. It just doesn’t make sense otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong. I think 3G is the bomb. But I also think there’s a limit to what people can and will pay. Give me my podcast video.

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