T-Mobile is offering complimentary Wi-Fi service for six months to Sony PlayStation Portable owners who upgrade to the latest PSP firmware.
People with version 3.30 in the handheld gaming device can choose the "use wireless hotspot" option and follow the instructions to get connected. T-Mobile hotspots are commonly found in Starbucks, Borders Books and Music stores, hotels, airports, and other locations.
The complimentary service includes complete Internet access, including surfing, downloading games and other media, as well as playing video games online. T-Mobile has more than 7,000 Wi-Fi access points across the United States.
Following the first six months of service, PSP owners will have the option of purchasing a subscription at a special rate that wasn't disclosed. PSP owners have until March 28, 2008, to take advantage of the promotion.
Sony Computer Entertainment America said in a statement the T-Mobile partnership makes it more convenient for PSP owners to access online multiplayer games. For T-Mobile, the deal lets it tap into a large pool of potentially new customers.
"Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters" is the first title to support the new online access by embedding a button in the software to connect to T-Mobile. Additional titles are scheduled for release this year.
Other features in the firmware upgrade include support for full-resolution video, 720 by 480 pixels. In addition, thumbnail files for video and RSS content can now be displayed. PSP firmware can be downloaded wirelessly over a Wi-Fi connection, or downloaded to a PC and then transferred to the PSP over a USB cable.
The market around portable game players is big business globally. DFC Intelligence estimates worldwide revenue from Nintendo and Sony systems would exceed $10 billion this year. The market is being led by the Nintendo DS, which was the hottest selling system last year, according the researcher.
Deals like T-Mobile are important for helping Sony establish a solid position in the market against its rival. "A great deal will depend on the focus Sony Computer Entertainment decides to put on promoting the PSP platform over the next few years," DFC said.