We haven’t reported on VCast since its launch, for multiple reasons. It’s a little long winded, takes some to task, but in the end is at least an informative read on how the media works, and how VCast works… you might even learn something when you’re done reading it.
As you may have noticed, we didn’t cover VCast’s launch or any details surrounding it. This was because of communications between this site and Verizon PR that made us feel in a word “uneasy” about anything they had to say.
Verizon tried to claim they had the first and only 3G multimedia service, and their PR reps refused to admit that Sprint TV and MobiTV were the first. They went as far as to disagree with their own past statements to us to maintain this. After over a dozen emails back and forth, Jeffrey Nelson agreed to state it in the future as “first-of-its-kind wireless broadband entertainment experience in the nation.” Hardly “first and only”.
Okay, fine, we understand, Verizon’s PR reps are clueless. Wouldn’t be the first time it happened. But then they started telling everyone’s VCast multimedia was powered by Windows Media technology. Hmm, yeah… Windows Media Player included in all those VCast phones, right? Of course not. Turns out, Microsoft is only serving the content. Sprint on the other hand stated correctly that QuickTime from Apple was powering Sprint TV only in a server role.
Now, by this time, you probably think this is to bash Verizon and VCast, but it isn’t. You see, this is the first article that has actually made these clarifications… anywhere on the web, tv, radio, you name it. It is amazing how bad information can continue to be reported incorrectly, and while none of this really matters now, we waited to report it just to show how wrong “the media” can report. So, the next time you hear how wrong we are for analyzing, think back to all the times you were told on other sites that Windows Media was powering VCast… and how that analysis drew you to the wrong conclusion.
VCast, as a service, is actually pretty good. It offers EV-DO access, a WAP proxy (something Verizon used to charge for on its own), PacketVideo streaming access, and ties all data services up into a $15/month package. And, it’s totally unlimited. The VCast VPack (we call it the Vision Pack) allows for fully unlimited use of data.
Many have stated that VCast cannot stream videos when in a 1xRTT area, and this is correct. The reason behind this is that the nature of PacketVideo requires that streams have some reasonable range of service to be encoded for. Verizon could remedy this by having the encoding system encode both RTT and EV streams, and allowing Windows Media Streaming Server to determine connection speed and push the proper stream.
Now, onto one of the most pressing questions that hasn’t been fully answered. Yes, you can use your phone as a modem. However, Verizon prohibits it. If you’ve used your phone as a modem on Sprint, you’ll understand just by reading that. What it means is, Verizon cannot block the service, and you are in breach of contract for using it. However, you cannot be billed for such usage (per the VCast ToS), all Verizon can do is remove VCast and give you the option of canceling service sans-ETF. And, like Sprint’s Vision, tethering has no charges, airtime or kilobyte. And despite what some chose to assume online, no VCast phone has modem services blocked on it.
That’s VCast, sans inaccuracies.