Motorola discussed its iRadio subscription music service Tuesday, making it available to US wireless carriers.

Subscribers should be able to access iRadio sometime during the first half of this year, according to a Motorola spokesman, although when is up to the carriers.

While Motorola is making iRadio available to US carriers now, the company plans to demonstrate the service in France later this month and then launch the service internationally later this year.

iRadio kills the iTunes star?

iRadio allows a listener to tune into an initial 435 commercial-free Internet radio channels as well as their own personal music collection. The service uses a high-speed Internet connection, Bluetooth technology, a Windows XP PC and an iRadio-enabled mobile phone equipped with a storage card and Java. Bluetooth accessories, including an adapter for home stereos and a wireless car kit are also required.

Motorola is demonstrating the iRadio service on a number of iRadio-enabled phones, including its own Rokr E2 device, at CES this week. Although the company has been providing sneak peeks of the service for much of the past year, Tuesday is the first time Motorola has provided specific details on iRadio, according to Paul Alfieri, a company spokesman. Motorola expects a subscription to the service to be priced between $7 and $10 per month.

If a user stops a song at a particular point when running iRadio on a home stereo, Motorola said the tune can be restarted at the same point when the user gets into their car. The same thing applies when a call comes through on a phone while a user is listening to music. The music is automatically paused and once the call is finished the music will resume at the same point. Music or talk programs are cached on to the cell phone for one-time play. Once listened to, they're erased.

New bands welcome

Motorola is hoping that new music and spoken word artists sign up to use channels free of charge in its iRadio Get Heard Network, a digitally protected distribution channel, as a way to get their work heard. The artists can register with SoundExchange, a non-profit performance rights organisation, to get paid for their music, according to Alfieri.

In October, Motorola announced a partnership with Universal Music Group, with the record label committing to make its music available for iRadio.

IRadio will face a number of competitors, including XM Satellite Radio and radio services from both AOL and Yahoo. Given that car manufacturers are already including satellite radio services in their new vehicles, Motorola is looking to strengthen its ties with automakers, according to Alfieri. The company is likely to make announcements later this year in this regard, he added.