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Cingular: No Fast Wireless Until 2006

Cingular will start testing high-speed UMTS equipment later this year but won't roll out the fast data service broadly until at least 2006.

Cingular will start testing high-speed UMTS equipment later this year but won't roll out the fast data service broadly until at least 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Cingular is in the process of acquiring AT&T Wireless, which has vowed to roll out UMTS service in four cities by the end of this year. So the company will have some UMTS coverage soon, but it can't roll the service out widely because the infrastructure equipment for such a wide-scale rollout isn't available, according to the Journal.

"I wish I could get it quicker -- I can't," Cingular CEO Stan Sigman said in an interview with the newspaper.

Sigman did say that the company will complete the roll-out of its slower EDGE network this summer. EDGE enables typical wireless speeds of about 100 Kbps.

The slow roll-out of fast wireless service by Cingular could put it at a disadvantage to Verizon Wireless, which has started its nationwide roll-out of its fast 1xEV-DO service, which provides speeds of about 384 Kbps. Verizon Wireless says it will complete the nationwide rollout by next year.

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