Live TV in the car has proven as elusive as easy downloading of feature-length films from the Internet. As with movie downloads, satellite TV for the car has been available for several years, but the technology is also cumbersome, expensive and not quite ready for the mainstream. AT&T’s CruiseCast mobile satellite TV, which launched June 1 just in time for the summer driving season, is seeking to solve these three thorny issues — and two out of three ain’t bad.
Working with RaySat, CruiseCast has managed to shrink the size of a satellite antenna so that you don’t have to own an SUV or minivan to have the surface area required to mount one. And it’s gotten the price down some: $1,299 for the equipment and $28 a month for the service, which offers 42 channels of live satellite TV, including Discovery, ESPN Mobile, Disney and Fox News.
The competition comes from Audiovox, which plans to add FLO TV as an option for the company’s rear-seat entertainment systems later this year. FLO TV is already available on some mobile phones and the service was recently expanded in time for the transition to DTV on June 12 so that it’s now available in a total of 100 markets .
A potential advantage of FLO TV over CruiseCast is that it’s much cheaper: Hardware could cost as low as $500, and on Verizon and AT&T phones the service is only $15 a month.