Disney cell-phone service for children to end

September 28, 2007

BURBANK, Calif. – Walt Disney Co. will end its Disney-branded cell-phone service at the end of the year, 18 months after first offering the plan to customers.

Disney could seek a partnership with a wireless carrier to provide mobile-phone service, the company said Thursday.

The Family Center plan was marketed to parents as a means of better controlling children's cell-phone use. The company shuttered a money-losing ESPN-branded mobile service for sports fans in December. Content from ESPN is now offered through a partnership with Verizon Communications Inc.'s wireless unit.

"They learned their lesson with ESPN," said David Bank, an RBC Capital Markets analyst in New York. "I don't think they made the same level of investment or had the same expectations as they did with ESPN."

The Disney-branded service, started in June 2006, has a GPS feature parents can use to locate children and is carried on Sprint Nextel Corp.'s network. Disney said it will reimburse some customers.

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