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Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Disney to Launch 'Big Brother' Mobile Service

Disney is expected to introduce today a wireless phone service that will allow parents to set limits on their children's mobiles and track them on a map using Global Positioning System technology (GPS), according to the New York Times.

This new service called Diseny Mobile is expected to be unveiled in Las Vegas, at the annual trade show for CTIA, a wireless industry trade group, and should be available in June, according to the newspaper report.

Disney Mobile will allow parents to determine what hours and days of the week children can use phones and what numbers they can dial. They will also be able to set spending limits on their phone bills.

As part of the mobile service, parents can set up a monthly allowance of minutes, text messages or other services for each child to use. Once a monthly allowance is reached, both the parent and the child receive an alert on their Disney Mobile phones. The parent then can decide either to increase the allowance or restrict the phone's use.

The most innovative feature is that parents can determine the location of a child's phone, either from their own cell phones or by entering a code online that will show a map, the New York Times says.

"This is very much about putting control in the hands of the parents," said Steve Wadsworth, president of the Walt Disney Internet Group.

Parents can also use an online tool to designate when phones can be used, blocking school hours for instance, and what numbers can be dialed. Certain numbers, like the home number or 911, can be programmed to always be readily available in an emergency.

Disney Mobile, has not been priced yet.The service will be available to consumers through Disneymobile's web site and Disney Mobile kiosks in malls. To gain access to the service, a child must own a Disney Mobile phone, which costs $59.99 with a two-year service contract. Parents will not need to buy a Disney Mobile phone for themselves, but if they do not, they will have to monitor the child's phone use online instead of directly by phone.

The service follows Disney's February debut of Mobile ESPN, a service for sports fans.

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