AT&T Wireless launched high-speed 3G data networks Tuesday in Detroit, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle that will give mobile users Internet broadband-type services.
The company has invested $200 million in 3G UMTS (Third Generation Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service) networks, which it said it also plans to introduce in Dallas and San Diego by the end of the year.
The networks will run at speeds of 220 kilobits per second to 320 kbps. They may be a precursor to future technology upgrades by Cingular Wireless, which is trying to buy AT&T Wireless for $41 billion in a deal awaiting regulatory approval. John Zeglis, AT&T Wireless chairman and CEO, said Tuesday that AT&T Wireless hopes the deal is “only a few months from closing.”
Access to the network, which will offer simultaneous voice and data services, will cost consumers $24.99 a month for unlimited phone access, plus an additional $5 for such streaming media as news and sports video clips. The data service for laptop computers will cost $79 a month.
AT&T is selling 3G compatible handsets by Motorola Inc. and Nokia Corp. and said it was also offering a UMTS modem jointly developed by Lucent Technologies Inc. and Novatel Wireless Inc.
Japanese telecom company NTT DoCoMo Inc. invested $9.8 billion to buy 16 percent of AT&T Wireless in 2001. As part of the investment, AT&T Wireless promised to launch next generation services in Dallas, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle or other agreed upon cities before Dec. 31, 2004, using NTT as a partner.
If AT&T Wireless hadn’t built the networks, it would have been required, under the deal, to buy back NTT’s shares.
The new networks already have high-speed wireless competitors.
Verizon Wireless, the nation’s largest wireless phone company, has already launched a service in Washington, D.C. and San Diego using the EV-DO (Evolution Data Only) and said one-third of its network will have the service by the end of the year. The company has said it is spending $1 billion on wireless broadband infrastructure this year and next year.