Rogers launches webcam cellphone service
Rogers Wireless says it has become the first company in North America to offer video calling, which lets subscribers use cellphones like webcams to see each other as they talk.
"The experience is like being there," John Boynton, the company's chief marketing officer, said Monday in a news release.
Rogers, which is Canada's largest wireless carrier with nearly 6.8 million subscribers, said the service is only available for now in and around Toronto.
It will also only work when caller and receiver both have a brand of Rogers phone called the Vision Phone. The phones are already set up for the service, with a dedicated video call button.
Wireless video calls will cost 25 cents a minute on top of standard voice plans, or a subscriber can buy 50 minutes a month of video calls for $5, Rogers said.
William Shatner, the Canadian-born actor who is best-known for his role as Captain Kirk in the tech-heavy TV series Star Trek, made the first official video call at a news conference in Toronto. Shatner praised the technology, which is already in use in Europe and Asia.
Some industry observers have said that it is vital for cellphone companies to find new services to market to their young people. Max Valiquette, the president of Toronto-based market research firm Youthography Inc., said recently "customization, entertainment and communication" were the watchwords.
Rogers Wireless is a huge and fast-growing business, part of the Rogers Communications conglomerate that also includes cable TV and magazines.
The wireless division reported sales of $4.58 billion in 2006, up 18.7 per cent from 2005, and operating profit of $1.97 billion, up 47.3 per cent.