updated 2/28/2007 9:05:51 PM ET 2007-03-01T02:05:51

MobiTV Inc., which transmits cable TV channels to cell phones, said Wednesday it has surpassed 2 million users, doubling its subscriber base in less than a year.

The service, first launched more than three years ago by Sprint, features real-time feeds of cable channels such as CNN, CNBC, Fox News Channel and The Weather Channel, as well as made-for-mobile broadcasts from the likes of ESPN and ABC News. MobiTV sometimes comes bundled with a cellular carrier's wireless Internet plans; if purchased separately it costs $10 a month or more, in addition to the carrier's data charges.

In addition to Sprint, a unit of Sprint Nextel Corp., the service is now offered by more than 30 wireless carriers. These include AT&T Inc.'s Cingular Wireless and Alltel Corp. in the United States, as well as Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.'s 3 and France Telecom SA's Orange in the United Kingdom.

MobiTV has won subscribers despite the unreliable download speeds of cellular networks, which can make the picture stutter and jump, rendering the experience more like a slide show than full-motion video.

Despite its growth, however, MobiTV is due to face new competition this year from TV networks being launched specifically for cell phones.

Both Cingular and Verizon Wireless, jointly owned by Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, plan to offer live TV through MediaFlo, a wireless network built by Qualcomm Inc. In other countries, wireless carriers are introducing broadcast TV for cell phones using a technology called DVB-H.

To broaden its reach, MobiTV also has partnered with a joint venture between Sprint and four cable TV operators to deliver programming to cell phones. It also has forged a deal to deliver video over an Internet-based service offered by AT&T.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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