Television

Walt Disney unveils wireless service specifically designed for families

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MUMBAI: Consistent with its strategic focus to pursue technologies that deliver outstanding creative content and services in new ways, The Walt Disney Company unveiled Disney Mobile (www.disneymobile.com) in the US, which is the first national wireless phone service specifically designed for families.

Disney Mobile will operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) utilising the Sprint Nationwide PCS Network. This service will be a follow-up MVNO from the Walt Disney Company. Mobile ESPN, the only mobile phone service built from the ground up for sports fans was launched in the US in February.

This was launched at the CTIA Wireless 2006 tradeshow in Las Vegas. This wireless service will launch in June with innovative features that, for the first time, allow parents to directly manage their family's wireless experience.

Unlike traditional family plans that focus on shared minutes, Disney Mobile will offer a comprehensive, family-tailored service. It will provide customisable tools to balance kids' cell phone use with controls that allow parents to manage family phone use and help teach kids responsible use. In addition, Disney Mobile will come equipped with all the things tweens and teens are looking for in a cell phone today – from a camera to messaging to popular ring tones and content.

At the core of Disney Mobile's family plans are the Family Center features, which allow parents to:

    set spending allowances and track usage for voice minutes, text messaging, picture messaging and downloadable content

    determine the hours of the day and days of the week when kids can use their phones

    program restricted and always-on phone numbers to manage with whom kids may communicate

    prioritize important family messages

    locate kids' phones with GPS capabilities

Beyond the Family Center features, Disney Mobile will offer wireless voice service, text and picture messaging, and a broad range of entertainment and content that will appeal to every family member, and to Disney fans of all ages.

"Given our strong commitment to embracing innovative technology, coupled with Disney's outstanding creative content, Disney Mobile is perfectly positioned to transform the way families come together and stay connected. Parents will appreciate Disney Mobile's unique capabilities to manage family communications, and tweens and teens get the functions they're seeking in today's wireless service," said The Walt Disney Company president and CEO Robert A Iger.

Disney Mobile phones will have a stylish, clam shell-style design that appeals to adults and kids alike, but the parents' phones will be configured with additional, exclusive functionality for managing the family's mobile experience. These controls may also be accessed via the Disney Mobile website.

The service will be available to consumers at www.disneymobile.com and at Disney Mobile kiosks in malls throughout the US. Additional retail distribution channels are planned for later in the year. Pricing plans, which will be detailed closer to consumer availability, will be competitively priced with other family mobile plans and will include Family Center features as part of the basic service. Handset pricing will start at $59.99 when purchased with a two-year service agreement.

"Disney Mobile uses sophisticated technology to make family communication better and easier to manage than ever before. We have addressed what parents are looking for in a comprehensive mobile service, while also balancing the needs of what kids want in a cell phone. Never before has a mobile service offered such a feature-rich, customisable experience for both parents and kids," said Walt Disney Internet Group president Steve Wadsworth.

The centerpiece of the Disney Mobile experience is the innovative Family Center features, which are accessible on Disney Mobile phones and www.disneymobile.com. Its features include:

Family Monitor

Disney Mobile's Family Monitor feature can help make surprise cell phone bills a thing of the past by giving parents the unique ability to manage their kids' cell phone use real-time. A parent can set monthly allowances for each kid for key aspects of cell phone use, including voice minutes, text and picture messages, and downloadable content such as ringtones, wallpapers and background themes.

Call Control

Disney Mobile's Call Control feature allows parents to use an online tool to designate when kids can use their cell phones, as well as who they can and cannot call. Parents can choose the day of week or even the time of day they will allow their kids to use their phones, eliminating use at inappropriate times such as during school hours or late at night.

Family Locator

The Family Locator feature allows parents to locate their kids' phones using advanced Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Parents can access the Family Locator feature from their phones or from www.disneymobile.com by entering a PIN which each parent personally selects. Once access is authorized, parents can locate their kid's phone by selecting "locate" through the feature. When the phone's location has been found, the location, a map of the location, and an indication of accuracy appear.

Family Alert!

Family Alert! allows family members on the same Disney Mobile family plan to send each other prioritised messages so the messages are unlikely to be missed. Family Alert! messages prominently appear on the handset screen whenever the phone is idle, causing family members to acknowledge messages before using the phone for other services.

"Parents told us that they value the extra convenience and security a cell phone provides the family, but they also expressed a desire to be able to supervise their children's cell phone use and avoid the horror stories they have heard about excessive mobile bill surprises. Disney Mobile's Family Center features give parents the best of both worlds. It provides the ultimate in flexibility for parents, giving parents maximum visibility to their family's phone usage, and allowing them to apply as much or as little control as they see appropriate for their kids," said Disney Mobile senior vice president and general manager George Grobar.

ENTERTAINMENT

In addition to its Family Center features, Disney Mobile will also offer parents, tweens and Disney fans of all ages a wide variety of Disney and other family-appropriate content to personalise and customise their Disney Mobile phones. The "Theme-It" function will allow multiple screens of the phone to be re-themed with a selection of related content chosen by the subscriber.

Disney Mobile subscribers will also enjoy a broad offering of Disney content. The Disney Zone includes exclusive 'Vault Disney' content only available to Disney Mobile subscribers and applications that will extend many of the online and offline worlds of Disney. At launch it will include a Radio Disney application that will allow direct interaction with Radio Disney and its family friendly music.

There also will be a broad assortment of general entertainment content to complement the service's Disney offerings.

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