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Verizon, Cingular get hooked to IM

Other perks for the wireless services include e-mail and, for Cingular users, mapping services and games.

In separate deals announced Thursday, Verizon Wireless and Cingular Wireless said they will make instant-messaging services available to their customers.

While Verizon is partnering with Microsoft's MSN, Cingular is teaming with Yahoo.

MSN Mobile, Microsoft's service for sending e-mail and instant messages remotely, is available for phones enabled with Verizon's "Get It Now" service. The offering essentially lets customers use mobile versions of MSN Hotmail and MSN Messenger to send messages from one phone to another, or between a phone and a PC. Customers can download MSN Mobile software from their phones, Verizon said.

MSN Mobile service for Get It Now phones is available now for an introductory rate of $2.49 per month for the life of the subscription. Beginning Oct. 26, customers can sign up for the service at a monthly rate of $2.99, the company said.

Meanwhile, Cingular said its new partnership will allow customers of its Media Net service to send and receive instant messages and e-mail, and to download mapping information, games, news and weather. Cingular customers need to connect to the Yahoo Web site from their wireless phones to access the new offering. Pricing details were not given.

"It's no surprise today's increasingly mobile users are looking to their wireless devices to help stay better connected to people and information," Jim Ryan, vice president of data product management at Cingular, said in a statement. "Cingular's new offerings of Yahoo's leading services are designed to meet this lifestyle need through the delivery of innovative features that are on the cutting edge of wireless technology."

Our reporters' take on what's
happening in broadband.

Instant messaging is becoming increasingly popular, not just as a fun feature but also as a tool for communication in companies. Microsoft says it has 135 million users of its MSN messaging service globally.

Recently, IM giants America Online, MSN and Yahoo decided to allow limited interconnection among their products after years of cold war.