AT&T Wireless (NYSE: AWE) today began offering customers in Detroit, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle broadband mobile wireless services with its launch of the first commercially-available true 3G UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) network in the United States. The company said it is also deploying UMTS technology in Dallas and San Diego, and expects to offer service in these markets before the end of this year.
AT&T Wireless said its wireless broadband service turns these markets into "metropolitan hotspots," offering customers continuous, high-speed wireless connections. Customers can now use a handset, PDA or laptop to receive streaming audio and video services; create and share video clips; experience richer and more visually compelling content; and connect to critical business information, in most areas throughout these cities. The company also noted that it launched commercial service in these four cities in fulfillment of NTT DoCoMo's shareholder rights agreement.
"We're delivering on our promise to offer 3G wireless services in the U.S., and bring the benefits to American consumers and businesses," said John Zeglis, AT&T Wireless Chairman and CEO. "In a few short years, we've increased wireless data speeds more than tenfold across the country. Today's announcement enables our customers to access information, video, and audio on their wireless device faster than most people do from their wired computer at home," he added.
Today's commercial launch is made possible by our strategic relationships with equipment and device manufacturers, content providers and a host of leading high-tech companies," Zeglis said. "In particular, our collaborators and partners at NTT DoCoMo played a major role in helping us bring our 3G services to market."
"AT&T Wireless customers can now experience advanced wireless services similar to those offered to our customers in Japan," said Dr. Keiji Tachikawa, the former President and CEO of NTT DoCoMo, who now serves on the company's Board of Directors. "We are glad to have worked with AT&T Wireless over the past three years as they have established themselves as the North American leader in wireless data services, and today, as they launch true, commercial 3G wireless to the United States."
GLOBAL STANDARD AND UNMATCHED POTENTIAL
AT&T Wireless said the four-city UMTS (also known as W-CDMA) deployment is the next logical step for delivering 3G services on the world-standard GSM wireless technology platform. Currently, there are more than one billion GSM subscribers in more than 200 countries around the world.
The company said it now offers the fastest nationwide wireless data service with EDGE, and provides true 3G service in more U.S. markets than any other company. In addition, AT&T Wireless noted that its customers can use most of its GSM devices for voice services in more than 140 countries and data services in more than 60 countries, which is a significant advantage compared to the more limited reach of services from its competitors.
The commercial launch of UMTS by AT&T Wireless, and the expanded spectrum position that will result from the pending merger of AT&T Wireless and Cingular Wireless, will enable the new combined company to offer customers a more expansive portfolio of wireless data solutions in North America. With the completion of the merger targeted before the end of the year, the new combined company will be better positioned to deploy UMTS nationally. Cingular recently disclosed plans for UMTS deployment, which it said will include trials in Atlanta this summer and could begin rolling out in 2005.
AT&T Wireless said its wireless broadband service provides customers with average wireless data speeds between 220 and 320 kilobits-per-second (kbps), with bursts up to 384kbps. In the future, the company noted that UMTS can be easily and cost-effectively upgraded to HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access), which is estimated to attain peak data rates up to 14.4 megabits-per-second (mbps).
Starting today, AT&T Wireless said its customers can access the new wireless broadband service using either the Motorola A845 ($299.99) or Nokia 6651 ($299.99) handsets. In addition to providing access to high-speed wireless data connections and enhanced content through AT&T Wireless' mMode(tm) in the four markets announced today, the company said the handsets can be used to make voice calls or access wireless data connections at speeds equivalent to standard wired dial up service, when customers travel outside the four initial markets. The company said it is also offering a UMTS modem developed jointly by Lucent and Novatel ($149.99 with rebate), in addition to the handsets.