Cingular Wireless plans to offer 3G mobile data service in a number of US cities next year and in most major US markets by the end of 2006.
The service uses UMTS technology to deliver average data speeds between 400Kbps and 700Kbps, according to the company. Cingular got the radio spectrum it needed to build the national service by completing its merger with AT&T Wireless in October. The network will be built with equipment from Lucent, Siemens and Ericsson.
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The roll-out will be a significant one for UMTS, which is being adopted widely in Europe and Asia by GSM operators such as Cingular. AT&T Wireless already offers commercial UMTS services.
The UMTS service will allow subscribers to use data services and make phone calls at the same time. Cingular envisions 3G applications such as high-speed mobile internet, enterprise productivity applications, audio and video streaming, high-resolution image capture and playback and multiplayer online gaming. The company said that its strategic handset providers - Nokia, Motorola and LG Electronics - have committed to delivering UMTS devices by the end of next year.
Cingular currently offers nationwide data services over a GSM network with speeds as high as 135Kbps. UMTS devices will be backward-compatible with the network in the near future, according to Cingular. The company has started planning the integration of its GSM network with that of AT&T to improve coverage and service quality.
Stephen Lawson writes for IDG News Service