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Cingular Tips Hand On Wireless Broadband, 3G Plans

Cingular will not only roll out a 3G UMTS cellular data network next year, but it also will use even faster wireless technology that will compete, at least in part, with wireless broadband technologies like WiMAX.

Cingular's plans became apparent in separate announcements Tuesday and Wednesday that the wireless operator will use wireless voice and data infrastructure equipment from both Lucent and Nokia. Nokia also said it plans to deliver UMTS phones to Cingular in 2005.

Cingular has previously said it hoped to have its 3G UMTS network built out nationwide by the end of 2005, although it has acknowledged that that date could slip to 2006. UMTS delivers typical speeds in the 400 Kbps to 700 Kbps range. AT&T Wireless, which Cingular recently acquired, has already rolled out UMTS in six U.S. cities.

However, Cingular tipped its hand that it also plans to compete in the enterprise-class wireless broadband arena by saying that part of its deal with Lucent will be for High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) access. HSDPA works in conjunction with UMTS -- it primarily requires only a software upgrade to base stations and other infrastructure equipment -- and offers theoretical speeds as high as 14.4 Mbps.

Cingular said in a statement that the combination of UMTS and HSDPA will enable it to offer a mix of wireless data services such as multimedia and multi-player games for consumers and mobile wireless broadband for enterprises. In that statement, Cingular indicated that it was aiming its HSDPA service at some of the same markets as WiMAX and other wireless broadband technologies are aiming at.

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