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Cingular set to deploy UMTS
Posted: 01-Dec-2004 [Source: Cingular]

[Ericsson, Lucent Technologies and Siemens selected to deploy UMTS/HSDPA network for Cingular Wireless with building to begin in major and suburban markets next year.]

Atlanta -- Cingular Wireless, the nation's largest wireless provider, today announced plans to begin deploying the nation's fastest high-speed mobile wireless data network based on international standards. The third generation network will offer average data speeds between 400-700 kilobits per second (Kbps), and bursts to several megabits per second on capable devices.

Cingular, a joint venture of SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp., will be building 3G UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) with HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) networks in a number of major urban and suburban markets beginning in 2005. Cingular's recent acquisition of AT&T Wireless provided the company with the spectrum necessary to build the 3G networks. 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 enable regional and rural carriers to deploy UMTS services on their networks as well.

Cingular signed agreements with Ericsson, Lucent Technologies and Siemens to develop and deliver the infrastructure required for a broad-scale deployment of an expanded 3G UMTS/HSDPA network. Additionally, several manufacturers have committed to supplying handsets and other devices for use on the UMTS network. Cingular said it expects to offer 3G services in most major markets by the end of 2006.

"Today's announcement marks a significant milestone in our commitment to speed the deployment of third-generation wireless services across the nation," said Kris Rinne, chief technical officer, Cingular Wireless. "The selection of these vendors will bring tremendous intellectual capital to the team as we work to achieve our common goal to bring the next generation of mobile multimedia services to consumers and businesses." The UMTS/HSDPA service will enable enhanced services, including broadband- capable high-speed Internet access, wirelessly enabled enterprise productivity tools and audio/video streaming for business customers, along with a host of consumer services such as high-resolution digital image and video capture and playback and advanced multi-player gaming. Additionally, UMTS/HSDPA offers customers the ability to have simultaneous voice and data sessions, so a customer can use a handset to make a call at the same time they're checking e-mail or browsing the Internet at high speeds. This is a key differentiator between UMTS/HSDPA and other wireless technologies that only offer data services. Ericsson, Lucent and Siemens will provide the equipment necessary to give customers access to some of the fastest wireless data connections available. Cingular also signed an agreement with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) to enhance its existing GSM/GPRS/EDGE network and possibly support the deployment of its 3G UMTS network. Financial terms of the contracts were not disclosed. In addition, Cingular's strategic handset providers -- Nokia, Motorola and LG -- have committed to delivery of competitive UMTS devices in the fourth quarter of 2005 with attractive form factors and feature functionality that takes advantage of the increased data speeds. With the completion of its merger with AT&T Wireless, Cingular now operates the nation's largest digital voice and data network with nationwide coverage. The new company's enhanced spectrum position and combined network assets pave the way for the rollout of UMTS/HSDPA and give Cingular customers a more expansive portfolio of wireless data solutions. Currently, Cingular customers can use EDGE, the fastest nationwide wireless data network, to receive average data connection speeds up to 135 kilobits per second depending on the device used. EDGE is available to over 260 million people in more than 8,500 cities and towns, and in areas along 30,000 miles of interstate highways. In the near future, UMTS devices will be backward compatible with EDGE. Earlier this year, AT&T Wireless launched the country's first commercial UMTS wireless networks in Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. Cingular will continue to offer UMTS services in those six markets. "The investments we're making today will pay big dividends for our company and our customers as wireless becomes more integral to our everyday lives," said Rinne. "These companies have the expertise to put a network in place that will turn the promise of 3G into reality." Rinne added that Cingular already gives its customers access to some of the most advanced wireless voice and data services in the world on the largest digital voice and data network -- the Cingular ALLOVER(SM) network. Cingular's ALLOVER(SM) network covers 268 million people and is growing. Coverage is not available in all areas. Network Planning and Integration Under Way Cingular today also said it has started integration planning of the combined company's networks. More immediately, customers will experience a number of benefits from the network integration, as the coverage and quality of their wireless services are enhanced. Further improvements will steadily continue over the next several months. The company said customers using its ALLOVER(SM) network should expect fewer blocked calls and better in-building penetration. "Network improvement is the cornerstone of our merger with AT&T Wireless," continued Rinne. "If the network gives customers a great experience, every other function of the business feels the positive effects. The combination of the two companies' network assets positions Cingular to set a new standard for network excellence and raise the bar for wireless. We're ready to put our extensive voice and data experience to work to deliver the quality wireless experience our customers deserve."

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