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Cingular launches global 3G one-stop shopping

Feb 27, 20062 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork Security

* Globe trotters to get broadband cellular package

Cingular Wireless plans to offer one-stop shopping for global wireless broadband data services beginning early next month. The carrier announced its forthcoming GlobalConnect service at the recent 3GSM conference in Barcelona.

The carrier will assume the role of broadband cellular services aggregator through roaming agreements it has struck around the world. This should help streamline service procurement and billing processes for enterprises with internationally mobile employees, providing them an alternative to striking individual relationships with carriers on a country-by-country basis.

Cingular plans to offer two usage-based plans with GlobalConnect: a North American plan ($109.99 monthly for 100MB) for travel within Canada and Mexico and an Overseas plan ($139.99 monthly for 100MB) for travel in Asia and Europe. Both include unlimited data usage on Cingular’s domestic data networks, including its 400K-700Kbps High-Speed Data Packet Access (HSDPA) network and 75K-135Kbps Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE) network, in the U.S. The higher-speed HSDPA network currently covers 16 major U.S. metropolitan areas.

A laptop card accompanying the service reportedly connects to HSDPA, EDGE, Universal Mobile Telephone System (UMTS) and Generalized Packet Radio System (GPRS) wireless data networks in 95 countries. For supporting UMTS and HSDPA, the card contains 850-, 1900- and 2100-MHz radios, says spokesman Ritch Blasi. For falling back to EDGE and GPRS services where higher-speed services aren’t available, it supports quad-band 850/900/1800/1900-MHz connections.

The card costs $99 with a two-year commitment to Cingular domestic service or a one-year commitment to the global service, Blasi says.

For an extra $19.99 per month, users with Wi-Fi enabled laptops can also access the 4,000 wireless hot spots operated by AT&T (formerly SBC) in the U.S. through the communications interface that ships with the multi-band laptop card. Making connections to Wi-Fi networks outside the AT&T footprint is also do-able, but services are billed separately, Blasi says.

No handhelds or smartphones yet support HSDPA, though consumer-class UMTS-speed (200K-300Kbps) handsets are expected from Cingular in March, he adds.