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AT&T video sharing service hits 160 markets

AT&T is taking its video sharing service nationwide.

AT&T's Video Share service has gone nationwide.

The service, which the company launched last month, lets cell phone users send one-way video clips during a conversation. The service costs $4.99 a month for 25 minutes of video sharing usage or $9.99 for 60 minutes of sharing. The company also offers a pay as you go plan for 35 cents per minute.

Starting Monday the service is now available in 160 markets around the country. And eventually, AT&T says it will be integrated with AT&T's TV service called U-Verse.

Video Share sounds like a nifty service, but I'm skeptical that many people will be interested in it. For one, the service requires people on each end of the video stream to have a particular phone from AT&T and the service. And even though $4.99 and $9.99 may not sound like a lot of money, these charges are on top of the regular phone plan and data plans that consumers must also purchase.

Video is a powerful medium. While a picture says a thousand words, a video says even more. I'm sure there are loads of people who'd like to share their experiences with friends and family as they're happening.

So if AT&T could figure out a way to make the service work with any video enabled phone on any operators' network, then I think the service might have some legs. Think SMS text messaging. When carriers only let subscribers text message people on their own networks the service was hardly used. In 2001, Americans only sent a total of 253 million text messages for the whole year, according to the CTIA. Now that text messages can be sent among all the carrier networks, the volume of people using the service has exploded. In December 2006, Americans sent 19 billion text messages in just one month. That's an increase from 2001 of about 7,300 percent in five years.