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AWS launches UMTS in four markets

SEATTLE-Fulfilling previous announcements that it would launch UMTS-based next-generation services in a handful of markets by the end of this year, AT&T Wireless Services Inc. said it has begun offering commercial services in Detroit, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle. The carrier added that it is also deploying UMTS in Dallas and San Diego and additional markets by the end of this year.

The launch fulfills AWS’ shareholder rights agreement with NTT DoCoMo Inc., which acquired a 16-percent stake in AWS in late 2000 for $10 billion.

“Today’s commercial launch is made possible by our strategic relationship with equipment and device manufacturers, content providers and a host of leading high-tech companies,” said John Zeglis, chairman and chief executive officer of AWS, which is in the process of being acquired by Cingular Wireless L.L.C. “In particular, our collaborators and partners at NTT DoCoMo played a major role in helping us bring our 3G services to market.”

AWS said the service provides average wireless data speeds of between 220 and 320 kilobits per second with peak speeds of up to 384 kbps. Customers can access the higher-speed network using either the Motorola Inc. A845 or Nokia Corp. 6651 handsets, which each retail for $300 and are compatible with the carrier’s GSM network when used outside the UMTS service areas. AWS is also offering a UMTS modem a card that was jointly developed by Lucent Technologies Inc. and Novatel Wireless Inc. for $150.

Customers can receive unlimited access to what AWS calls its enhanced mMode service for $25 per month, or business users can purchase unlimited data access for $80 per month, which is the same as its current EDGE/GPRS pricing.

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