A frequent question in telecom here is whether the greater Seattle area will continue to play a role in the industry after some of our flagship companies — AT&T Wireless and Western Wireless are two — are gobbled up in acquistions.
Today’s news gives some insight to how it might shape up, and it’s somewhat of a twist on an old thing. RealNetworks and Qpass — two former Seattle Internet companies — have landed stellar telecom deals with Cingular Wireless, which acquired AT&T Wireless. Although both companies have been playing in the mobile arena for a while, the high-profile announcements solidfy their footing even more.
Seattle’s RealNetworks said today that Cingular launched its video on-demand streaming service in 16 cities. Built on RealNetwork’s Helix platform, the exclusive video clips will include shows from HBO, updates from The Weather Channel and other content from Fox Sports and the Disney Channel. The partnership between Cingular and RealNetworks was announced last year at CTIA.
The video launch corresponds with the release of new Cingular handsets, which run on the Atlanta-based company’s new high-speed network. The network was launched last year, but until now Cingular was selling only laptop data cards for the service. The phones available are the LG CU320, Samsung SGH-ZX10 and shortly the Nokia 6282 and LG CU500.
Qpass said today it was expanding a pre-existing five-year relationship with Cingular. Qpass has provided Cingular with its mobile commerce platform, which helps carriers promote and manage content, from payments to customer care and financial reporting. The new multi-year agreement expands that function by centralizing mobile commerce with Qpass. Qpass announced a significant deal with T-Mobile Internetational at 3GSM.