Transforming Network Infrastructure Industry News

[April 07, 2006]

Cingular plans '3G' service update

(Daily Oklahoman, The (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Apr. 7--Cingular Wireless plans to invest nearly $70 million in its Oklahoma network this year and enhance its services to include "3G" -- or third generation -- wireless technology, officials said Thursday.

The company said it plans to add new cell sites, high-speed data services, generators and other enhancements to what it calls its "Allover Network."

Telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan in Atlanta said Cingular is making similar investments nationwide as it attempts to stay ahead of wireless competitors. And it isn't alone in spending money to beef up the network.

"While Cingular is investing in their networks, so are the other major competitors like Verizon and Sprint Nextel which is great news for the wireless customer," Kagan said.

Nationwide, Cingular is spending $6.5 billion on network improvements this year. The company claims more than 52 million subscribers nationwide. It does not break out subscriber numbers by state.

"Competition in the wireless world goes far beyond providing a good-quality phone call," Kagan said. "It goes to speed networks and giving customers Internet access, as well as a whole host of services, from taking pictures and videos to watching television and movies and more."

Cingular also said part of the enhancements will be completion of the integration of the old AT&T Wireless network assets into its network.

In 2005, Cingular invested more than $60 million in improvements in its Oklahoma network. It has spent more than $13 billion on network improvements since the AT&T Wireless acquisition in 2004.

"Our ongoing focus is ensuring Cingular customers have the best wireless experience possible -- which includes unmatched coverage and quality of service," said Lora Lee Laird, sales director for Cingular in Oklahoma.

Cingular plans to launch its "3G" wireless network technology in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa this year. The new technology will allow customers to access information and applications at broadband speeds through wireless telephones or laptop data cards.

Cingular is owned in a joint venture between AT&T Inc. and BellSouth. In March, AT&T announced plans to buy BellSouth, which led to speculation that Cingular Wireless would drop its name in favor of the familiar AT&T Wireless name.

"I think we can assume the name will change from Cingular to AT&T probably after the merger with BellSouth is complete," Kagan said. "At that time all three companies will be called AT&T."

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