July 6, 2005

Disney to Offer Phone Service Using Sprint

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Theme park and media company Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday said it would use Sprint's network to offer a mobile phone service geared toward families.

Disney expects the venture to be in investment mode for the next several years, but hopes it will bring solid financial returns in the long run, Steve Wadsworth, president of the company's Internet group, said in a statement.

The company is turning to wireless at a time when U.S. operators are taking aim at very specific market segments, such as the very young, the very old and other special-interest groups, as more than 60 percent of the nation's population already has phones.

Disney's sister brand, ESPN sports network, also plans to sell a mobile service aimed at sports fans, also renting space on Sprint's network.

The Disney Mobile service is expected to launch next year with features including voice calls and entertainment.

Disney said it would be responsible for product development, distribution, marketing and billing. It entered the mobile industry in 2000 in Japan with Disney content such as ring tones, games and graphics.


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