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AWS bidding centers on Cingular, Vodafone

NEW YORK-Bidding for AT&T Wireless Services Inc. is expected to center on two candidates as NTT DoCoMo Inc. reportedly informed AWS’ management that it does not intend to increase its current 16-percent stake in the company, leaving Cingular Wireless L.L.C. and Vodafone Group plc as the two remaining companies to submit a bid by today’s deadline.

DoCoMo reportedly reached its decision during an executive meeting on Friday after determining it did not have the staff or resources to acquire and operate such a large international operation. The Japanese telecommunications giant has divested itself of a number of international operations over the past several months and has been forced to write off large sums of its initial investment in AWS. Analysts noted DoCoMo likely would need to invest another $2 billion if it wants to keep its current stake in AWS following a possible sale.

Further clouding AWS’ future was a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by the Law Offices of Roger R. Ellis on behalf of AWS customers in California claiming the carrier has used false and deceptive advertising to bait customers with one rate plan and switching them to more expensive and intentionally confusing plans without the customers’ knowledge or consent. The lawsuit also alleges AWS is double billing customers on family-shares lines and that customer service representatives claim to fix the problems only to have them reappear on a customers bill the following month.

“These actions on the part of AT&T Wireless are a desperate attempt to quickly grab millions of dollars not really owed from loyal customers so a few executives can take the money and run,” Ellis said in a statement. “This is unconscionable and will be stopped.”

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