Cingular Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile provider, plans Tuesday to introduce high-speed wireless services in 16 U.S. markets to compete more effectively with Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp., which already have similar services.
Cingular Chief Executive Stan Sigman said the wireless venture of AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. would expand the service to most of the top 100 U.S. markets next year. The service will first be available for laptop customers, with the first high-speed handsets available next year.
Cingular will offer its data service for $59.99 a month for customers that sign up for a two-year service contract.
Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group Plc, has had high-speed handsets since February.
Wireless operators around the world have been speeding up their networks to offer advanced services such as mobile video and Web surfing in an effort to boost revenue as phone call prices fall and the number of potential new first-time customers dwindle.
But Sigman said the U.S. market, where more than 60 percent of the population already have wireless service, would continue to add new subscribers.
Asked at a BellSouth investor conference whether he sees an annual growth rate of about 5 percent as realistic for the next five years, Sigman replied: “I’m going to be bullish and say it’s closer to 10 than 5 percent.”