Signal Fades for Disney Mobile

The branded wireless service will cease functioning by the end of the year.
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Disney

(DIS) - Get Report

on Thursday said it would drop its 15-month-old Disney Mobile venture at the end of the year and explore a new partnership through which to offer its wireless content and services.

Disney Mobile launched in June 2006 as a mobile virtual network (MVNO), which means it offered a branded cell-phone service with entertainment and other features over

Sprint Nextel's

(S) - Get Report

network. Disney's ESPN unit similarly

pulled the plug on an MVNO, Mobile ESPN, last year.

"

The MVNO model has proven, as we've seen with other companies this past year, to be a difficult proposition in the hyper-competitive U.S. mobile phone market," Walt Disney Internet Group President Steve Wadsworth said in a statement.

Disney Mobile's main offering was its Family Center, which allowed parents to set restrictions on their children's usage of the phones and the ability to locate the phone through GPS technology. The company said it is exploring opportunities to continue to offer those and possibly other features with "major U.S. carriers."

Disney Mobile said it would continue to support service for customers through Dec. 31 and will offer a reimbursement program for eligible customers. It directed users to a

Web site, where details will be available no later than Oct. 8.