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AT&T Wireless Introduces mMode Service

AT&T Wireless today formally introduced its new mobile consumer service, mMode, giving people wireless access to information and entertainment. The new offer is available in more than a dozen U.S. with more to be added, the company said.

“We have created mMode to show consumers they can do a lot more with wireless phones than just talk,” said Andre Dahan, president of AT&T Wireless’ mobile multimedia services unit.

The mMode experience is organized into three broad areas — “connect,” “manage,” and “entertain.”

The new service is based on the hugely successful i-mode service run by NTT DoCoMo (news – web sites) in Japan. Ever since the Japanese giant took a 16 percent stake in AT&T Wireless, observers figured some of its approaches would rub off in the United States.

AT&T spokesperson Ritch Blasi told Wireless NewsFactor there are “a bunch of differences between m-mode and i-mode.” The service’s content will be very different from that offered in Japan, he said. “In Japan, they shoot cartoons to each other on a daily basis. We don’t think that’ll be popular over here.”

There are three pricing levels, based on data usage. “Mini” is $2.99, plus 2 cents per megabyte. The $7.99 “Mega” and $12.49 “Max” plans include 1 and 2 free megabytes, respectively. Additional data is 1 cents per MB.

Instead of kitschy cartoons, AT&T Wireless plans to peddle information and entertainment content through m-mode. However, messaging will be the mainstay.

“The service will include SMS (short message service), but it will also have AOL Instant Messenger and other services,” Blasi said. He noted that the service eventually will be able to send pictures from one user’s phone to another — a feature that could gain importance as the carrier begins to sell the Ericsson (news – web sites) T68 phone with a built-in digital camera.

Despite the multimedia aspects of the service — and despite the fact that AT&T Wireless is couching it as “consumer-oriented” — Blasi admits that business users and mobile professionals likely will be the first to subscribe to m-mode. It will appeal to “the people who need a phone for more than just talking,” he said.

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