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T-Mobile unveils video-messaging service

The company is selling a Nokia color videophone that allows customers to record a 10-second audio and video clip and then send it as an e-mail attachment.

T-Mobile USA is touting a new service that lets people send video messages via cell phones, marking the latest push by companies to pack more features into wireless handsets.

The wireless phone company announced Thursday that the service will be available using a Nokia 3650 color videophone that allows customers to record a 10-second audio and video clip and then send it as an e-mail attachment.

T-Mobile is selling the videophone for $299, and customers will need to subscribe to a $2.99 a month service to transmit data, photos and video. The service allows 10 videos or 30 photos to be transmitted per month. Subscribers also will have to pay a monthly service fee for voice services.

Beginning Nov. 24, wireless carriers will be required to allow their customers to keep their phone numbers, even if they switch to a competitor. Wireless carriers are concerned that the new requirement will lead to a surge in customer turnover and are scrambling to add more features, such as video messaging, cameras and games, to their phones.

"With (the deadline) coming in November, wireless operators have to offer more and more features to keep their customers," said Patrick Comack, a telecom analyst with Guzman.

While T-Mobile is the first to debut the video messaging service, other wireless carriers are lining up with similar plans. But a T-Mobile spokesman said his company has the only service to offer audio with the video because a deal with Nokia allowed T-Mobile to add special software to the device.