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AT&T Wireless, AOL expand agreement

REDMOND, Wash.-AT&T Wireless Services Inc. announced an expanded agreement with instant messaging company America Online Inc. to install AOL’s IM software in select AT&T Wireless mobile phones. Nokia Corp.’s 3100 and 3200 handsets for AT&T Wireless will be the first phones to feature the IM technology.

The deal is an extension of a previous agreement between AWS and AOL. AT&T Wireless subscribers can already access AOL’s instant messaging services using text messaging as well as through AWS’ mMode service.

Under the new agreement, AOL’s instant messaging client will be installed in select AT&T Wireless phones, starting with the two Nokia models. The AOL IM client will sit side by side with the phones’ other programs, such as address book and text messaging. The service will allow phone users to more quickly access AOL’s instant messaging program.

“With this feature, instant messaging on wireless phones will finally be as simple as sending a text message,” said Glenice Maclellan, vice president of messaging services at AT&T Wireless. “Together, America Online and AT&T Wireless are making it faster and easier for users to stay connected to their IM communities, which we expect will drive further adoption of wireless IM services. We believe that customers will choose to use some combination of text messaging, instant messaging, picture messaging, and wireless e-mail based on individual needs and preferences.”

AOL said its IM client for AT&T Wireless’ phones is compatible with the instant messaging standards from the Wireless Village initiative.

AT&T Wireless’ move is notable since T-Mobile USA Inc. recently announced it would phase out AOL’s embedded IM technology in its phones, and would install IM network technology from instant messaging company Oz Communications. Further, Verizon Wireless and other carriers have recently installed upgraded instant messaging services.

In other AT&T Wireless news, the company said it would again allow subscribers to vote for Fox’s “American Idol” TV show using text messaging. The company said its subscribers sent a total of 7.5 million votes during last year’s “American Idol” season.

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