AT&T pushes play on download service


DENVER -- AT&T Wireless unveiled its first over-the-air, full-song music download service Tuesday through a partnership with eMusic.

Unlike rival wireless operators Sprint and Verizon, AT&T is not launching its own branded services, keeping in line with a partner-based music strategy first unveiled last October. Instead, AT&T subscribers will have access to the entire 2.7 million-strong eMusic catalog though a service dubbed eMusic Mobile.

Users can buy tracks in bundles of five for $7.50. Once their five-track limit is reached, they can buy another bundle of five for an additional $7.50, and so on, working out to $1.50 a track.

Like other mobile download services, each track is a "dual-download," meaning one copy formatted for the mobile phone will be sent over the air, while another copy is available for download to the PC.

Unlike other services, eMusic Mobile contains no DRM protections, just like the company's online service. As such, while the service launched with a far larger catalog of music than either Sprint or Verizon, no major-label fare will be available.

Additionally, there is no discounted or bundled pricing plan for existing eMusic subscribers. The services are completely separate.

AT&T has four phones available with the service, three from Samsung and one from Nokia. Technically, any AT&T phone with a WAP browser can access the service, as no DRM means no special software need be added to the devices for them to download music. But the four phones at launch feature easy access to the eMusic application through dedicated keys. The carrier plans to add up to 20 phones by the end of the year.