AT&T Wireless launches Edge service

US mobile phone operator AT&T Wireless Services are offering services on its Edge (Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution)...

US mobile phone operator AT&T Wireless Services are offering services on its Edge (Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution) network, promising higher data transfer speeds.

The Edge upgrade on its network allows users to transfer data with average speeds of between 100Kbps and 130Kbps, up to twice as fast as rival Sprint on its 3G service and three times faster than wired dial-up, AT&T Wireless executives said at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas.

The ability to provide connections faster than 100Kbps is key to business users.

"We have broken the speed barrier and we believe we have a distinct advantage in attracting and retaining customers," said John Zeglis, chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Wireless.

The AT&T Wireless Edge service is available across the US where AT&T Wireless offers GSM and GPRS coverage. Further expansion is planned, including in Canada where Rogers AT&T Wireless is upgrading its network.

Limited use subscription plans for the Edge service start at $19.99 (£11.79) and go up to $59.99 (£35) where the user gets 40Mbyte data transfer allowance, said Andre Dahan, president of mobile multimedia services at AT&T Wireless.

An unlimited data transfer plan costs $79.99 monthly.

AT&T also announced the availability of a PC card for notebook computer users from Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications. The card costs $149.99 when bought with a two-year contract and after an unspecified rebate.

"The business for us is really laptop based, I think we will see mostly laptop adoption in the early phase," Zeglis said. AT&T Wireless would not give specific targets for the take-up of its new service.

AT&T also sells the Nokia 6200 phone with Edge support.

Next year, more hardware supporting the upgraded network will become available and AT&T Wireless is preparing a mMode plan that will allow users to download more information on the handset, including pictures and video clips.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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