Cingular Launches 3G


Cingular Wireless launched its third-generation wireless network in select markets Tuesday, bringing with it the opportunity to derive additional revenue from data services. Verizon Wireless, jointly owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone Plc, had the edge with the launch of its high-speed EV-DO network last year. But Cingular’s 3G network, which runs on a systems called UMTS and HSDPA, is arguably faster and able to handle both voice and data traffic at the same time. That capability lays the groundwork for live streaming video and voice.

As of launch, 16 metropolitan markets such as San Francisco, Houston and Washington, D.C., had access to the network. Customers will be able to connect to it with their laptops via modem cards. More cards and wireless handsets will come early next year, Chief Operating Officer Ralph de la Vega said during a Tuesday conference call.

“First time that such a wide scale of deployment has been undertaken,” he said.

The service costs the same as the current network plan – $59.99 a month with a voice service plan. The modem card, which retails for about $99, can switch between the slower and faster networks based on availability.

Cingular held off on unveiling the pricing and service plans for handsets. De la Vega said they would be competitive with Verizon’s EV-DO network, dubbed VCast.

For Cingular, the network is faster and cheaper. Chief Technology Officer Kris Rinne said Cingular will save 45% to 70% of its costs once it moves its traffic onto the new network. With its ability to more efficiently handle data add to Cingular’s revenue.

“The 3G implementation gives us the basic building block for a range of wireless services we plan to provide,” she said. “It stimulates increased usage and data revenue.”