updated 04:30 pm EDT, Thu September 27, 2007
Disney Mobile Closing
Disney today announced that its cellphone service Disney Mobile will shut down this year, marking an end to the relatively short-lived virtual provider. Though the company updated its phones as recently as August with two Samsung models, it revealed that it would begin phasing service out effective today, cutting off the ability to download new content and software. Customers would receive refunds for their phones through a program beginning October 8th, while customers are expected to switch to another provider by November 30th to make sure their numbers are ported over without a service disruption.
No reason was given for the shutdown by Disney Mobile, though the company's strategy of providing phones with parental control software may have limited the availability of desirable handsets and special features similar to those offered from Sprint, whose network Disney had used to support its own services. The closure is the second for a major virtual network operator since the failure of Amp'd Mobile in July and reflects the difficulty for these firms to rival larger companies, as many have to license their access to the network and often receive new features or hardware after the larger carriers. Helio is the leader in the business and recently received $270 million from SK Telecom to encourage its growth in the US.