Cingular Launches 3G Network

Cingular, while the largest cellular operator in the U.S., is the last of the three major nationwide carriers to offer fast 3G service. The company claimed in a statement that it is the first cellular operator in the world to offer HSDPA, a variation of UMTS 3G service, that potentially offers typical speeds of 1Mbps and higher. The company said, however, that initial typical speeds will be .in the 400 Kbps to 700 Kbps, which is roughly equivalent to the 1xEV-DO service already offered by Sprint and Verizon Wireless.

"Make no mistake about it: Wireless users want the speed and services they've come to expect from their wired connections," Cingular's CEO Stan Sigman said in a statement delivered at an investor's conference. "And today Cingular is delivering on its promises to provide both the speed and reliability customers need."

Among the first cities to receive the service, which Cingular is calling BroadbandConnect, are Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, San Diego, Seattle and San Francisco, the company said. Notably missing from its list of areas that will initially receive the service is New York City.

Initially, the service will be available for laptop users via PC Card modems, the operator said in a statement. It did not say when phones supporting the service will be available.

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Like Verizon Wireless and Sprint, it is offering a so-called unlimited plan for $59.99 a month with a two year contract.