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Helio

Helio

Editor's note: Because evaluating wireless coverage requires experience with the network in a wide variety of physical locations, CNET does not rate wireless carriers. We can, however, tell you everything you need to know about the major carriers. We invite your feedback and ratings in our user opinions section--the more input we get from around the U.S., the better our users can evaluate coverage at a national level.

Helio is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator operating as a joint venture between U.S.-based Earthlink and Korea-based SK Telecom. Part of its original mission was to bring high-end Korean phones to the U.S. market. Helio's target demographic skews toward the young and upwardly mobile, as is evidenced by the carrier's early embrace of MySpace Mobile, a mobile version of the popular social network. Helio handsets typically come with advanced features like EV-DO support, megapixel cameras, and music players. Helio was launched in January 2005. As an MVNO, it leases its network from Sprint Nextel and provides nationwide coverage.

Things you should know:
• There are two kinds of monthly plans: all-in plans and a la carte plans. All-in plans have unlimited features, and a la carte plans lets you choose which features you want.
• Activation is free.
• All Helio phones come with a standard array of features, which include EV-DO support, GPS, full HTML browsing, YouTube accessibility, and Microsoft Exchange Activesync support.
• Helio On Top is a free RSS reader offered with all Helio phones. It displays the latest news headlines as an overlay on the phone's main page.
• Helio phones come with a GPS-based application called Buddy Beacon, Helio's own friend-location service. The service lets you broadcast your location to your friends, and vice versa.
• Some of Helio's 3G offerings include premium video content from content partners like VH1 and Comedy Central. There's also Helio Music, Helio's own over-the-air music download service.
• Web 2.0 fans will find plenty to like with Helio's one-click access to many popular Web sites such as Digg, Craigslist, and Boing Boing.

Fast facts
• Subscribers: 200,000
• Coverage: Nationwide coverage using Sprint Nextel's network. International roaming is available in 36 countries including China, India, and South Korea.
• Technology: CDMA
• 3G network: Yes
• Streaming video service: Yes
• Music download service: Yes
• Push-to-talk: No
• Analog roaming: No
• Prepay plans: No
• Family plans: Yes

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