British cable TV operator Virgin Media has unveiled plans for an unlimited music download subscription service through a partnership with Universal Music Group, the world's largest music company, media reported said Tuesday.
For a "small monthly fee," Virgin Media customers will be able to stream or download as much music as they like and play it on any device when the service launches later this year.
The music will be available to download in an MP3 format, giving buyers the ability to listen on a range of devices, including iPods, mobile phones and PCs as well as other MP3 players.
Virgin did not release details of the anticipated monthly subscription costs. But people familiar with the service said it would cost 16.30-24.50 U.S. dollars per month.
As well as the unlimited subscription, for an unspecified but "great value" monthly rate, the service will also offer an "entry level" version for customers who download music regularly, but may not want an unlimited service.
"I'm thrilled to see Virgin back where it belongs at the heart of music and, once again, breaking the mould," said Virgin chief Richard Branson, calling it a "world first (which) lays the ground for a truly unique service.
The service is set to launch later this year.
The scale of the task facing the global music industry was underlined by figures published in January, showing that 95 percent of downloads remain illegal.