AT&T Wireless Lives on the EDGE

LAS VEGAS -- U.S. mobile phone operator AT&T Wireless Services on Tuesday began offering services on its EDGE network, promising higher data transfer speeds than any of its competitors with a national network.

The EDGE (for "Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution") upgrade on its network allows users to transfer data with average speeds of between 100 kilobits per second and 130 kbps, up to twice as fast as rival Sprint PCS on its "so-called 3G" service and three times faster than wired dial-up, AT&T Wireless executives said in a news conference at Comdex in Las Vegas.

The ability to provide connections faster than 100 kbps is key to business users, said John Zeglis, chair and chief executive officer of AT&T Wireless. "We have broken the speed barrier and we believe we have a distinct advantage in attracting and retaining customers," he said.

Current Availability

The AT&T Wireless EDGE service is available across the U.S. where AT&T Wireless offers GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) coverage, Zeglis said.

Further expansion is planned, including in Canada, where Rogers AT&T Wireless is upgrading its network, he said.

Limited-use subscription plans for the EDGE service start at $20 and go up to $60, at which point the user gets a 40MB data-transfer allowance, said Andre Dahan president of mobile multimedia services at AT&T Wireless. An unlimited data transfer plan costs $80 per month, he said.

Hardware Help

Together with the service launch, AT&T announced the availability of a PC Card from Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications for notebook computer users. The card costs $150 when bought with a two-year contract and after an unspecified rebate, AT&T Wireless said in a statement.

"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 adoption of its new service.

In addition to the PC Card, AT&T also sells the Nokia 6200 phone with EDGE support. In 2004 more hardware supporting the upgraded network will become available. AT&T Wireless also is readying a new mMode plan that will allow users to download more information on the handset, including pictures and video clips, the company said.

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