Cingular Wireless has issued a comprehensive request for proposal (RFP) to telecommunications equipment vendors to develop and deliver the infrastructure for operating UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) network technology. Making the announcement today at the Yankee Group's Wireless Leadership Summit, Cingular's Chief Operating Officer Ralph de la Vega also said that Cingular's deployment of this third-generation network and services will create substantial benefits for American consumers and create opportunities for American workers.
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is based on GSM/GPRS/EDGE technology that supports data rates up to 384 Kbps. Cingular is also planning to deploy an enhanced version of UMTS called High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), which will further increase network capacity and offer speeds with peak data rates up to 14.4Mbps. This 3G technology will allow Cingular to deliver enhanced services for business customers, including high- speed Internet access and wireless audio/video, along with a host of consumer services such as high-resolution digital images, full-motion video, and advanced multi-player gaming.
"With this announcement, Cingular reinforces its commitment to deliver advanced, high-speed wireless services to customers across the U.S., while creating real economic opportunity for the country," said de la Vega. "We need both spectrum and technology to make UMTS available nationwide. The acquisition of AT&T Wireless will give us spectrum, and this RFP will provide the technology."
Cingular envisions numerous economic benefits to be gained by moving forward decisively with UMTS technology. Specifically, UMTS will:
* Give customers more choices and make for a more competitive environment for wireless broadband services
* Provide new opportunities for wireless developers to bring new applications to market more quickly
* Produce new high-skilled jobs and give vendors incentives to create these jobs in America.
A key advantage in deploying UMTS is the technology's compatibility with Cingular and AT&T Wireless' existing GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks. Earlier this year, Cingular agreed to acquire AT&T Wireless. The deal is awaiting approvals from the FCC and Department of Justice. Once the companies are integrated, Cingular will operate the largest nationwide high-speed data network.
The combined Cingular/AT&T Wireless network footprint and increased spectrum will also make it possible to roll out high-speed data services for the first time in many parts of rural America. Cingular, which pioneered the development of GSM at both 850 and 1900 MHz, intends to make the high-speed network available to not only its regional and rural roaming partners but also facilitate the ability for regional and rural carriers to deploy UMTS services on their networks as well.
"We intend to stimulate growth of UMTS, allowing our key roaming partners to benefit from the same economic efficiencies that we enjoy. As a result, more rural Americans may soon have broadband wireless for the first time," continued de la Vega.
In addition to broad domestic coverage, Cingular customers will also have one of the largest international roaming options for both voice and data, since UMTS is the natural evolution to 3G for GSM, the global standard used by more than 70 percent of the world's wireless customers.
Cingular will be conducting UMTS trials in Atlanta this summer and could begin rolling out UMTS in 2005. According to de la Vega, "With our on-going national deployment of GPRS/EDGE and our evolution path to UMTS, Cingular will deliver high-speed services to our customers where and when they want to be connected."