Cingular Wireless today launched its super-charged wireless network capable of providing customers with high-speed access to information in a world that has gone mobile. Customers can use the third-generation (3G) network to access Cingular BroadbandConnect, which is available to nearly 35 million people in 52 communities throughout the United States. The company will continue to extend the network rapidly next year.
Stan Sigman, Cingular's president and CEO, announced the service at an investor conference in New York City: "Make no mistake about it: Wireless users want the speed and services they've come to expect from their wired connections. And today Cingular is delivering on its promises to provide both the speed and reliability customers need."
Cingular's 3G network is the first widely available service in the world to use HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) technology. HSDPA is the high-speed evolution of GSM/EDGE (Global System for Mobile Communication/Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution), which shares a common core network. GSM is the world's most popular wireless technology, which is used by more than one billion people in 210 countries.
Cingular will initially launch the BroadbandConnect service in Austin (TX.), Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland (OR.), Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA.), Seattle, Tacoma (Wash.) and Washington D.C.
Cingular BroadbandConnect is a super-charged enhancement to the company's nationwide EDGE network, the nation's largest wireless high-speed data network. When coupled with a compatible device and service plan, the service provides average mobile data connections between 400-700Kbps (kilobits per second) on the downlink and bursts to more than a megabit per second.
BroadbandConnect combines a laptop modem card, Cingular's Communication Manager software and a Data Connect plan for use on laptops. Customers can use their laptops to access the Internet or e-mail, download large files and attachments, and run corporate business applications at broadband speeds in areas covered by BroadbandConnect. The service also offers additional security features compared to alternative wireless technologies. Additional devices and exclusive services that take advantage of the high-speed HSDPA network, such as transmitting full motion video and providing ultra-fast audio, will be available in 2006.
Unlike services offered by some wireless companies, BroadbandConnect does not drop a session when the user is outside the coverage area. Cingular said the laptop modem cards are dual-band HSDPA/UMTS (Universal Mobile Telephone System) (850/1900Mhz) and backward compatible with EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) in four bands (850/900/1800/1900Mhz), so the session is seamlessly transferred to the company's nationwide EDGE network or a data network of one of its roaming partners.
Customers can purchase either a Sierra Wireless AC860 or Novatel U730 laptop modem card for $99.99, after rebate, when they sign up for a qualifying voice plan and introductory two-year $59.99 Unlimited Data Connect plan. A variety of monthly data plans are available starting at $19.99 for 5 MB.
An updated version of Cingular Communication Manager is included with the laptop modem cards. The software gives customers the flexibility to connect to BroadbandConnect, EDGE, GPRS or public and private Wi-Fi hotspots.
BroadbandConnect uses HSDPA/UMTS technology, the global standard and natural 3G evolutionary path for GSM providers. Wireless carriers offering UMTS, EDGE or GPRS can upgrade their networks to HSDPA and be assured there is a continued evolutionary path to faster speeds and more advanced services.
"HSDPA/UMTS gives us the singular advantage of offering simultaneous voice and data services to our customers. For businesses and consumers, this means more feature rich services and content," said Kris Rinne, chief technology officer for Cingular. "It also provides a lower cost method for carrying traffic and more efficient use of spectrum."