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Cingular Wireless Term Paper

Following months of speculation, regulatory red tape and the seemingly elusive approval by the Federal Communications Commission that came Sept. 29, SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth Mobility officially came together last week, announcing its joint venture now will be known as Cingular Wireless.

“Cingular is a name that shows the importance of the individual customer, as well as the unity of this joint venture,” said Stephen Carter, president and chief executive officer of Cingular Wireless.

“I absolutely love this name,” Carter said during a conference call announcing the new company.

Cingular will serve more than 19 million customers in 42 of the nation’s top 50 markets, making it the No. 2 wireless carrier behind Verizon Wireless, and pushing the once-dominant AT&T Wireless Services Inc. further down the competitive ladder. Cingular is 60-percent owned by SBC and 40-percent owned by BellSouth.

During the next three months Cingular said it will be working to transition SBC and BellSouth customers to the Cingular brand name, and in January, the 11 different brands offered by SBC and BellSouth all will become Cingular Wireless.

Much like Verizon did, the new name raised many eyebrows because of its awkward spelling and potential pronunciation problems. Carter attributed the unusual spelling to the lack of “real” words available for use on the Internet.

“The possibility of using a correctly spelled name or word is almost non-existent,” Carter said. “Throughout all the testing, everyone immediately announced it correctly,” he added.

SBC and BellSouth’s quest to become a single entity began nearly a year ago when rumors started to fly about the prowess, or lack thereof, of each company in the wake of the merger between Bell Atlantic Corp., GTE Corp. and AirTouch Communications Inc. to form Verizon Wireless. Analysts and industry watchers however, could not ignore how well SBC and BellSouth’s markets complemented each other. Both companies also use GSM and TDMA technologies, and plan to migrate to EDGE to support third-generation services, Carter said.

SBC and BellSouth confirmed in April the rumors and announced they would create a then-unnamed joint venture, kicking off the race to gain approval from the FCC.

The Justice Department required the companies to divest wireless licenses in 16 markets throughout three states as an antitrust condition, including properties in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La. SBC sold its interest in wireless properties in Indianapolis to AT&T Wireless Services, and in New Orleans to Alltel Corp. A decision on Los Angeles will be made Dec. 18.

A consumer marketing campaign to promote the new name and image is set to begin in January. To help customers during the transition to Cingular Wireless, both SBC and BellSouth said they will offer identical national and regional rate plans. The national plans will be sold under the name “Digital Edge USA,” and wireless Internet service is being offered under the “My Wireless Window” name.

“We’ve got 19 million customers and they’re very used to the existing company … We need to give them respect to give them time to adjust to the new name,” Carter said.

Several challenges lie ahead for Cingular, the most important of which is filling in crucial coverage gaps, including New York City. Carter said the company has been working to remedy its coverage problems, acquiring spectrum in Washington state and the Austin, Texas, area in recent months. He did not specify whether Cingular would bid for a license in the New York City area in the upcoming FCC spectrum auctions.

Also on Cingular’s plate is launching nationwide wireless data services. With a nationwide packet data network courtesy of BellSouth’s Wireless Data division, Cingular already has its foot in the door.

“We’re still evaluating and researching how best to charge for wireless data. Bits and packets aren’t very easy for customers to understand,” said Carter.

He said the company will begin a controlled test of general packet radio services in several California markets during the fourth quarter.

Last week’s announcement also carried with it new speculation that NTT DoCoMo is in talks with Cingular about taking a minority stake in the company. Carter would not confirm these reports, but NTT DoCoMo previously has confirmed it is in talks with several U.S., Europe and Asia carriers regarding alliances.

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"AT&T Wireless" redirects here. For the defunct wireless provider that was merged into Cingular in 2004, see AT&T Wireless Services.

AT&T Mobility headquarters in the Lenox Park district of Brookhaven, Georgia, adjacent to Atlanta

Formerly called

Cingular Wireless LLC

Type

Subsidiary
IndustryTelecommunications
FoundedApril 2000; 17 years ago (2000-04)
HeadquartersBrookhaven, Georgia, U.S.

Number of locations

5,000 retail stores; 2,900 owned
2,100 authorized [1]

Area served

U.S.
Puerto Rico
U.S. Virgin Islands

Key people

John Donovan (CEO, AT&T Communications)
Melissa Arnodi (SEVP, Technology & Operations)[2]
ProductsMobile telephony
Wireless broadband
Revenue$73 billion (2016)[3]

Number of employees

75,000 (2015)
ParentAT&T Communications
(AT&T)
Websitewww.att.com/wireless/

AT&T Mobility LLC, marketed as simply AT&T, is a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T that provides wireless services to 138.8 million subscribers in the United States[4] including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. AT&T Mobility is the second largest wireless telecommunications provider in the United States and Puerto Rico behind Verizon Wireless.

Originally known as Cingular Wireless from 2000 to 2007, a joint venture between SBC Communications and BellSouth, the company acquired the old AT&T Wireless in 2004; SBC later acquired the original AT&T. Cingular became wholly owned by AT&T in December 2006 as a result of AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth.

In January 2007, Cingular confirmed it would re-brand itself under the AT&T name. Although the legal corporate name change occurred immediately, for both regulatory and brand-awareness reasons both brands were used in the company's signage and advertising during a transition period.[5] The transition concluded in late June, just prior to the rollout of the AppleiPhone.

On March 20, 2011, AT&T Mobility announced its intention to acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion. If it had received government and regulatory approval, AT&T would have had more than 130 million subscribers.[6] However, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Communications Commission, and AT&T Mobility's competitors (such as Sprint Corporation) opposed the move on the grounds that it would substantially reduce competition in the cellular network market. In December 2011, in the face of both governmental and widespread consumer opposition, AT&T withdrew its offer to complete the merger.[7]

Services[edit]

This article needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(May 2015)

Among these services that AT&T aggressively promotes is its Rollover Minutes service, which allows customers to keep unused minutes from month to month on a twelve-month rolling cycle on its popular nationwide plans. Beginning in July 2007, AT&T allows its AT&T Unity plan users to have Rollover, a service which was exclusive to the Nation plans. AT&T also launched video share in 2007, in which a mobile caller can stream live video from one phone to another over the 3G network with video share capable phones. This allows one mobile phone user to view video from another user's camera through the mobile phone in real time. AT&T also had A-list, similar to former competitor Alltel's program launched on April 20, 2006 branded "My Circle." AT&T rolled out the A-list program on September 20, 2009. Customers with individual Nation plans of $59.99 or higher could use A-List with Rollover to select up to five domestic phone numbers to call anytime—including landlines and wireless numbers on any network—without using any of the minutes in their plan. FamilyTalk customers with plans of $89.99 or more could select up to ten numbers which any person in the FamilyTalk plan can call as much as they want.[8] Effective September 1, 2011, the A-List feature is no longer available to new consumer and IRU customers. Existing customers who had A-List on their account prior to September 1, 2011, are able to keep the feature as long as they stay on a qualifying rate plan. As of October 25, 2013 AT&T no longer offers Nation Plans or Family Talk Plans to its new customers. New customers are now required to have one of AT&T Mobile Share Value plans which include unlimited Talk, Text and a shareable bucket of data start at $45 for a smartphone. As of January 8, 2016 AT&T no longer offers 2 year contracts for subsidized smart phones to its consumer customers. Customers who currently have 2 year contracts are grandfathered, until they upgrade to a new device they will have to choose from AT&T's NEXT installment plans for smartphones.[9] AT&T has also reintroduced unlimited data plans for its customers who also have either AT&T U-verse or AT&T's newly acquired DirecTV. Unlimited data plans may be speed throttled after 22 GB of data have been used.[10] With the inclusion of these new plans AT&T has also introduced a free roaming in Mexico feature for its postpaid customers.[11]

Within AT&T's 21-state landline footprint, other AT&T services are offered at the AT&T retail stores, including signing up for home phone, internet, and U-verse. AT&T stores outside of this footprint (and from 2014 Connecticut) only offered wireless services and accessories until AT&T finalized its purchase of DirecTV in 2015, after which all AT&T company-owned stores nationwide started offering DirecTV alongside wireless service.

Employees[edit]

A large number of AT&T Mobility employees are unionized, belonging to the Communications Workers of America. The CWA represented roughly 15,000 of the previous 20,000 formerly AT&T Wireless employees as of early 2006.[12] As of the end of 2009, the CWA website claims roughly 40,000 workers of AT&T Mobility are represented by the union.[13]

History[edit]

Cingular Wireless[edit]

Cingular Wireless was founded in 2000. It was discontinued in 2007, and is now AT&T since 2007.

Cingular Wireless was founded in 2000 as a joint venture of SBC Communications and BellSouth.[14] The joint venture created the nation's second-largest carrier. Cingular grew out of a conglomeration of more than 100 companies,[15] with 12 well-known regional companies with Bell roots. The 12 companies included:

SBC Wireless had previously operated in several northeast markets under the "Cellular One" brand, while BellSouth's wireless operations incorporated the former Houston Cellular.

Cingular's lineage can be traced back to Advanced Mobile Phone Service, which was a subsidiary of AT&T created in 1978 to provide cellular service nationwide. AMPS was divided among the Regional Bell Operating Companies as part of the Bell System divestiture.

With the exception of Pacific Bell and BellSouth Mobility DCS, the digital network consisted of D-AMPS technology. The Pacific Bell and BellSouth Mobility DCS networks used GSM technology on the PCS frequency band (1900 MHz).

In October 2007, AT&T’s president and chief executive officerStan Sigman announced his retirement. Ralph de la Vega, group president-Regional Telecom & Entertainment, was named as president and CEO, AT&T Mobility.[16]

AT&T Wireless merger[edit]

In February 2004, after a bidding war with Britain's Vodafone Plc (at the time a part-owner of Verizon Wireless) Cingular announced that it would purchase its struggling competitor, AT&T Wireless Services, for $41 billion. This was more than twice the company's trading value.

The merger was completed on October 26, 2004. The combined company had a customer base of 46 million people at the time, making Cingular the largest wireless provider in the United States. AT&T Wireless was then legally renamed New Cingular Wireless Services.[17] Shortly after, new commercials were shown with the "AT&T" transforming into the Cingular logo, and with the Cingular logo's text turned blue to acknowledge the change. Some of the companies that comprised Cingular, such as BellSouth Mobility, ceased to exist when they were legally merged into the operating company subsidiary AT&T Wireless PCS, which was New Cingular Wireless PCS.[citation needed]

First announced on June 22, 2005, Cingular Wireless announced the intention to divest its Caribbean and Bermuda operations and licenses which it acquired from the acquisition of AT&T Wireless, to Irish-owned and Jamaica-based Digicel Group under undisclosed financial terms.[18][19][20][21]

In 2006, one year following the deal, a high-ranking source allegedly close to the sale pointed the Barbados Daily Nation Newspaper towards some SEC filings made by Cingular which were said to establish an idea of the approximate sale price of the deal. According to the SEC filings Cingular was paid around $122 million, with much of that cost going towards the purchase of the former AT&T Wireless assets in Barbados by Digicel.[citation needed]

At the time of the merger, there were two networks: the historic AT&T Blue Network and the Cingular Orange Network. Both networks contained a mix of both TDMA and GSM facilities. Approximately 50,000 cell sites had to be melded together. From a technical standpoint, the "blue" and "orange" networks were considered different networks until integration was completed in 2005.[22]Enhanced Network Selection (ENS) was used to home cellular devices on either the "blue" or "orange" network during this process.

"Cingular is now The New AT&T"[edit]

On November 21, 2005, Ed Whitacre, then CEO of the newly merged SBC/AT&T, announced plans to market Cingular's service under the AT&T brand. BellSouth spokesman Jeff Battcher countered that the terms of the joint venture allow either party to sell the service under another name, and that he believes they will be using the brand to market to business customers.[23] Cingular president Stan Sigman concurred with BellSouth's position, indicating that the Cingular brand would continue but be sold under the AT&T brand where offered in packages with other AT&T services, such as data and wireline telephony.

However, AT&T announced on March 5, 2006 that it would acquire BellSouth.[24] The acquisition was finalized on December 29, 2006 when the FCC gave its final approval. According to AT&T, the company began the rebranding of Cingular Wireless to "AT&T".[25]

On January 12, 2007 AT&T announced[26] a major rebranding transition campaign to transition Cingular to the new AT&T (in February 2009 "new" was removed). The former Cingular stores, after being rebranded to AT&T, sold all AT&T products and services: wireless, landline, Internet, U-Verse, and more.

The name change would be parodied on an episode of The Colbert Report when Stephen Colbert would compare the renaming of various businesses to the AT&T banner to the T-1000 from the Terminator films, since much of what is now AT&T makes up the majority of the former Bell System.[27]

Cingular to AT&T rebranding transition
  • On January 14, 2007, AT&T launched the transition of the Cingular brand to AT&T in television advertising and customer communications, by creating the "Cingular is now The New AT&T" logo.
  • On April 15, 2007, AT&T Mobility began to introduce new AT&T branded mobile phones and devices. The alpha tag (portion of phone's screen which displays the name of the network on which the phone is connected) on new phone activations also started reading "AT&T".
  • Around May 11, 2007, Cingular's name was replaced with "AT&T" in most advertisements.
  • On May 19, 2007, the AT&T logo replaced the Cingular logo on the NASCARNEXTEL Cup Series car it sponsors, owned by Richard Childress Racing and driven by Jeff Burton; however, it was soon removed.
  • On May 24, 2007, Palm, Inc. issued an update for Cingular-branded Treo 680smartphones that, among other things, updated the phone's branding (startup and shutdown screens, wallpaper backgrounds) from Cingular to AT&T.[28]
  • As of May 31, 2007, the former cingular.com website redirects to wireless.att.com and no longer features any Cingular logos whatsoever.
  • In June 2007, customer service phone lines started being answered "Thank you for calling The New AT&T, about your wireless service." Additionally, all new SIM cards are branded with the AT&T logo.
  • By June 16, 2007, most of the phones on the company's network displayed AT&T as the carrier instead of Cingular.
  • By early 2009, AT&T had dropped "The New" part of its brand from all advertising and communications. Customer service phone lines are answered "Thank you for calling AT&T."
  • As of December 2017, www.cingular.com can still be used to access AT&T's wireless shop website. Although AT&T let the Cingular federal trademark lapse as of June 2013 they still own a trademark for Cingular Sounds. The domain CingularSounds.com also rolls over to an AT&T webpage. On May 16, 2014, the Cingular Sounds trademark was cancelled by the USPTO when AT&T did not file a Section 8 declaration of use.
  • In January 2016, as part of an unrelated corporate rebranding related to AT&T's acquisition of DirecTV, AT&T Mobility began to phase out its use of orange in advertisements, which had been the dominant color of Cingular. The company started placing more of an emphasis on blue, which had been kept as an accent color following the initial merger with AT&T Wireless and was a legacy color with both DirecTV and the Bell System.[citation needed]

Acquisition of Dobson Communications[edit]

On November 15, 2007, AT&T completed its acquisition of Dobson Communications. Dobson marketed the Cellular One brand in rural and suburban locations in various areas of the United States, including Alaska. AT&T bought Dobson for $13 per share, as well as assuming the regional carrier's debt, which cost the carrier about $5.1 billion total. The U.S. Justice Department had ordered AT&T to sell assets in five U.S. states to complete its $2.8 billion Dobson Communications Corp. takeover. The department ordered AT&T to divest certain cell-phone assets in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Texas where AT&T and Dobson are most competitive. At the time, AT&T was the largest U.S. cell-phone provider, with more than 81 million subscribers in 50 states. Dobson's Cellular One was the ninth largest, with 1.7 million subscribers in 17 states. Dobson had been an AT&T roaming partner since 1990, and the acquisition is expected to bring growth to Dobson's current markets. The purchase allowed AT&T to operate in the more rural areas of the United States including Alaska and West Virginia.[29]

Acquisition of Centennial Communications[edit]

On November 7, 2008, AT&T announced its plans to acquire Centennial Wireless for $944 million. AT&T said that the acquisition would provide customers with better coverage in the Southeast, Midwest, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The deal will also give AT&T more highly coveted 850 MHz spectrum in the current Centennial Wireless coverage area. In addition, Centennial also provides switched voice and high-capacity data and Internet Protocol solutions for business customers in Puerto Rico. The transaction will give AT&T a wired network presence in Puerto Rico and will allow the company to better serve its multinational business customers with a presence in this United States territory. AT&T will gain Centennial's 893,000 subscribers after divestiture requirements. The deal was finalized on November 6, 2009.[30]

Failed acquisition of T-Mobile USA[edit]

Main article: Purchase of T-Mobile USA by AT&T

On March 20, 2011, AT&T and Deutsche Telekom announced that AT&T had agreed to acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom in a deal estimated to be worth $39 billion in cash and stock. AT&T said the deal was expected to close in 12 months and was subject to regulatory approval. As of June 2011, it was being examined by the FCC.[31] On August 31, 2011, the United States Department of Justice formally announced that it had filed a lawsuit to block the merger.[32] On November 22, 2011, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski recommended sending AT&T's proposed T-Mobile acquisition to an administrative law judge for review and a hearing.[33] On November 23, 2011 AT&T withdrew its application with the FCC regarding the acquisition of T-Mobile USA. They also indicated that they would recognize a $4 Billion dollar accounting charge in the event of a deal collapse. That charge covers a $3 Billion cash breakup fee and $1 Billion as the market value for the spectrum they were required to transfer to T-Mobile if the deal failed to complete.[34]

Acquisition of NextWave Wireless[edit]

On August 2, 2012, AT&T and NextWave Wireless announced an agreement for AT&T to acquire NextWave Wireless. NextWave holds licenses in the Wireless Communication Services (WCS) and Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) bands.

The acquisition closed on January 24, 2013.

Acquisition of Alltel brand from Atlantic Tele-Network[edit]

On January 22, 2013, AT&T announced that it had signed an agreement with Atlantic Tele-Network to acquire the company’s U.S. retail wireless operations, operated under the Alltel brand, for $780 million in cash. Under terms of the agreement, AT&T will acquire wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, retail stores and approximately 585,000 subscribers. The transaction closed on September 20, 2013.

Acquisition of Plateau Wireless[edit]

On June 24, 2014 Plateau Wireless agreed to sell Plateau Wireless assets to AT&T. Assets included Plateau Wireless’ cellular customers and related operations and assets throughout eastern New Mexico and West Texas. AT&T claimed that this will improve coverage across far western Texas Panhandle and East New Mexico.[35] Spectrum grab included In NM-4 (Santa Fe): 20 MHz of AWS A band, 25 MHz of 850 MHz B band, 12 MHz of 700 MHz C band In TX-3 (Parmer): 20 MHz of AWS A band, 25 MHz of 850 MHz B band, 12 MHz of 700 MHz C band In NM-2 (Colfax): 20 MHz of AWS A band, 25 MHz of 850 MHz B band [36] AT&T said that this will be completed by the 3rd quarter of 2016.[37]

Acquisition of Nextel Mexico[edit]

On April 30, 2015 AT&T completed its acquisition of Nextel Mexico.[38]

Network[edit]

GSM facilities[edit]

In California, Nevada, Northern New Jersey and New York City, Cingular and T-Mobile USA maintained and shared a GSM-1900 network prior to the acquisition of AT&T Wireless, through a joint venture known as GSM Facilities. The network sharing agreement allowed Cingular to offer local service in northern New Jersey and New York City and T-Mobile USA to offer service in California and Nevada. On May 25, 2004, Cingular and T-Mobile USA announced their intention to dissolve the agreement contingent on Cingular's successful acquisition of AT&T Wireless, the Cingular network was transferred to T-Mobile USA, with Cingular continuing work on the GSM facilities at AT&T Wireless sites.[39]

Fiber network switching facilities[edit]

AT&T has a global sub-sea Tier-1 fiber network switching facility on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, in conjunction with University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park.

Radio frequency summary[edit]

Further information: UMTS frequency bands and LTE frequency bands

The following is a list of known frequencies that AT&T employs in the United States:

Frequency rangeBand
number
ProtocolGenerationStatusNotes
850 MHz CLR5UMTS/HSPA+
up to 21Mbit/s
3GActive3G services marketed as 4G.
1900 MHz PCS2
700 MHz Lower B/C/D/E/PS Blocks12/17LTE4GBands 12 and 17 are AT&T's main LTE bands for coverage.
14Active/Building OutBand 14 was acquired from FirstNet and is to be used for public safety services, although commercial uses are permitted (with lower priority).
29Band 29 is only for supplemental downlink.
850 MHz CLR5Additional LTE bands for capacity.
1700/2100 MHz AWS4
66
1900 MHz PCS2
2300 MHz WCS30

Network coverage[edit]

As a result of its formation through mergers and acquisitions, as well as the rapid technological change in the wireless industry, AT&T Mobility operates the second largest digital voice and data network within its United States footprint, reaching over 310 million people or 99.99999% established coverage using different wireless communication standards. The core technology standard for the AT&T Mobility wireless network is called Global System for Mobile Communications, or GSM. Much of the AT&T Mobility network footprint now uses UMTS / HSPA+ Version 2 standard 3GPP+ wireless technologies (UMTS/HSPA) for simultaneous circuit switched voice and packet switched data communications. AT&T Mobility also offers Push To Talk (PTT) service using network technology from Kodiak Networks.

Cingular, the predecessor to AT&T Mobility, supported legacy D-AMPS/TDMA and analog wireless networks. In March 2006, Cingular announced that these networks would be shut down by February 2008. As of March 31, 2007 Cingular ended TDMA supported for GoPhone (pre-paid) customers. On February 18, 2008, AT&T Mobility officially ended service on their AMPS and TDMA network, except for in areas previously operated by Dobson Communications; the Dobson AMPS and TDMA network was shut down March 1, 2008.

Networks formerly operated by AT&T Mobility predecessors including Cingular also include various paging services and the Cingular Interactive division, which became Velocita Wireless. Velocita was later purchased by Sprint Nextel.[40]

The AT&T Mobility wireless data network began in 2002 as a Cingular initiative called "Project Genesis" that involved a GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) overlay of the entire wireless network. Project Genesis was completed by the end of 2004. Later, this network was upgraded to EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) across the GSM footprint.

In 2005, AT&T Mobility launched a broadband network known as "BroadbandConnect", based on UMTS and High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), to counter Verizon Wireless and Sprint's EV-DO networks. UMTS service was launched on December 6, 2005 in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, San Jose, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Puerto Rico, Austin, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Baltimore and Washington D.C. and expanded to all major metropolitan markets by the end of 2006. As of early 2009, AT&T Mobility has completed its upgrade of the 3G network to HSUPA,[41] and will begin a new round of upgrades to the HSPA+ standard.[42]

Some areas do not have native AT&T coverage, such as much of the state of Nebraska, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Maine. In these areas, AT&T has roaming agreements with regional providers such as U.S. Cellular, Viaero Wireless, and Union Wireless to provide voice and EDGE/GPRS service.

Future networks[edit]

AT&T Mobility, like most other mobile phone companies, has chosen to build its new "4G" networks, with "Long Term Evolution" or LTE technology. LTE is the next step from 3G/WCDMA and HSPA for many already on the GSM technology curve, including AT&T. This new radio access technology will be optimized to deliver very fast data rates of up to 100 Mbit/s downlink and 50 Mbit/s uplink (peak rates). AT&T Networks will be throttling the speeds to ensure all customers will be able to use LTE efficiently. Speeds are expected to be actually 6 Mbit/s to 8 Mbit/s with the exception of around 20 Mbit/s (Peak Rate); however, this will change in time.

Designed to be forward-compatible with SSP and FEGO, LTE incorporates Multiple In Multiple Out (MIMO) in combination with Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) in the downlink and Single Carrier FDMA in the uplink to provide high levels of spectral efficiency and end user data rates exceeding 100 Mbit/s, coupled with major improvements in capacity and reductions in latency. LTE will support channel bandwidths from 1.25 MHz to 20 MHz and both FDD and TDD operation. MetroPCS has activated the first LTE network, which is fully operational. Depending on the amount of spectrum the carrier deploys it is expected AT&T will deploy 10 MHz, or 70 Mbit/s.

AT&T upgraded to HSPA 14.4 as a part of their effort to enhance their 3G wireless network as well as the transition to LTE. AT&T stated that their upgrades were completed at the end of 2010 after completing backhaul connections leading from cell sites to AT&T switching facilities.[43] In addition, AT&T had stated that their LTE network would be completed by year end 2014.

Marketing[edit]

"Fewest dropped calls"[edit]

During the first quarter of 2006, Telephia reported that during an extensive nationwide test of major wireless carriers in 350 metropolitan markets around the country, Cingular dropped the fewest number of calls across the country. In turn, Cingular began aggressively advertising the "Allover Network", citing Telephia as "the leading independent research company." Telephia's report was in stark contrast to the Consumers Union publication, Consumer Reports, based on a survey of 50,000 of its members in 18 cities, which criticized Cingular for static and dropped calls.[44] Furthermore, J.D. Power and Associates consistently ranked Cingular at or near the bottom of every geographical region in its 2006 Wireless Call Quality Study, which is based on a smaller survey of 23,000 wireless users. This campaign had to come to an abrupt end.

Telephia, which tests wireless networks by making over 6 million calls per year in what it claims is the world's largest wireless network test program, initially refused to provide details on its study, and a spokesman for the company has said, according to the Boston Globe, that "Cingular shouldn't have even mentioned the company's name to a reporter."[45] The research company later stated that Cingular did, indeed, have a "statistically significant lower dropped-call rate than the competition across some market/time period groupings", but that Telephia had "no knowledge of the specific methodology (markets, time periods or statistical thresholds) that Cingular used for its 'lowest dropped call' claim."[46] While AT&T has abandoned its verbal claim of "The Fewest Dropped Calls" in its commercials, it continues to show situations where two persons are speaking with each other on their phones, and one of the users' call drops. AT&T now states "We are still continuing to run ads that emphasize the importance of not dropping calls. That campaign is continuing."[47]

Apple iPhone[edit]

On June 29, 2007 the Apple iPhone was introduced to the United States market, and it made AT&T the exclusive carrier for the device within the United States until February 10, 2011, when the iPhone 4 was launched on the Verizon network.

Teething problems with AT&T's billing process emerged soon after the iPhone's release, as early adopters started receiving exceptionally detailed monthly telephone bills[48] with one of the most notable being the 300-page iPhone bill that was featured in an online video by blogger Justine Ezarik.[49][50]

Apple launched the iPhone 3G with AT&T on July 11, 2008. Although specific AT&T sales numbers are unavailable, Apple announced that over 1 million iPhone 3G devices were sold during the first three days — in contrast, according to Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, "It took 74 days to sell the first one million original iPhones."[51] In August 2008, Best Buy announced that it would begin selling the iPhone 3G for use on the AT&T network.[52] In September 2008, AT&T announced that it would also sell the iPhone 3G in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.[53]

In the United States, the iPhone 3G is available for purchase with or without an AT&T contract, as most big box retailers, like Best Buy, will sell the device without a contract.[54] AT&T is rumored to have heavily subsidized the iPhone's price to reach a broader spectrum of consumers.

On December 27, 2009, reports began to surface that AT&T had suspended online sales of the iPhone.[55] Spokesman Fletcher Cook said that the phone company periodically "modifies" its distribution channels, but had no further comment on the suspension of sales in the New York City area.[56] One AT&T employee incorrectly stated that, "New York wasn't ready for the iPhone," and that it lacked a sufficient number of cell towers to meet the heavy data demands imposed upon the network by iPhone users.[57] Sales of the popular iPhone resumed December 30, 2009.[58] This incident has revived speculation that AT&T's wireless network is not up to the demands of the current generation of 3G smartphones.[55][59] The official AT&T statement is that a large amount of fraudulent activity caused the withdrawal of sales in the area.

The iPhone 4 was released on June 24, 2010. It brought a number of new features, like an upgraded camera, flash, a new exterior design, upgraded screen, and the new version of Apple's software. According to Apple, over 1.7 million iPhone 4 units were sold in the first few days, which is the most out of any phone ever sold. These sales propelled AT&T to strong Q2 results.

Android-based smart phones[edit]

On February 18, 2010, AT&T announced that on March 7, 2010 it would introduce its first smart phone based on Google's Android operating system,[60] the Motorola Backflip.[61][62] On March 22, 2010, AT&T announced that its second Android handset would be the Dell Aero, a revised version of the Dell Mini 3.[63] However, the second Android phone AT&T released was the HTC Aria[64][65][66] which was announced on June 14, 2010 and released on June 20, 2010. The Samsung Captivate, which is part of the Galaxy S family, was released on AT&T's network on July 18, 2010. In addition to devices released on AT&T were a line of handsets manufactured by Motorola. The Motorola Flipout, followed by the Motorola Flipside and the Motorola Bravo all run Android 2.1 and were all released Q4 2010. Three new 4G Android devices were announced for release within the first and second quarter of the fiscal year 2011, including the Motorola Atrix 4G, the HTC Inspire 4G, and the Samsung Infuse 4G. HTC Inspire 4G being the first, preceded by the Motorola Atrix 4G are, available through AT&T's 4G network.[67] These three devices are all running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and are expected to be upgraded to Android 2.3 Gingerbread later in the year, along with an update to "enable" 4G uploads. Unlike other United States networks with Android-based phones, AT&T did not allow non-market apps to be installed. However, on May 16, 2011 AT&T announced that some current and future Android devices will come with an option to allow the installation of unofficial applications.[68]

Windows Phone-based smart phones[edit]

On November 8, 2010, AT&T and Microsoft released three smartphones using the Windows Phone operating system. One of the devices is the HTC Surround, which features a slide-out Dolby Surround speaker. Another is the Samsung Focus, featuring a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen and bears similarity to Samsung's Android-powered Galaxy S line. The last is the LG Quantum, which has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. All phones include a 5-megapixel camera with flash, a display with WVGA (800x480) resolution, and a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor. These releases were all part of the official "flagship carrier" status held by AT&T for Windows Phone. However, despite that status, the user community has been critical of the reluctance of AT&T to release updates for their phones, often leaving AT&T Wireless customers far behind those on other carriers with respect to the release of Windows Phone on their devices.

In 2011, HTC released an updated version of the HTC HD7 as the HTC HD7S. It has a 5-megapixel camera with dual LED flash, a 4.3-inch screen and HTC Hub, a graphical user interface bearing a slight similarity to HTC Sense. HTC also released the HTC Titan in 2011, with a 4.7-inch Super-LCD screen. Similarly in 2011, the Samsung Focus S was added as an updated Focus, and the Focus Flash was added as an entry-level device.

In 2012, AT&T added the HTC Titan II and Nokia Lumia 900 as the first two LTE Windows Phones available in the United States. Shortly thereafter, the Samsung Focus 2 was made available.

As of August 14, 2012, AT&T Wireless was offering five Windows Phone devices for purchase on their web site: the Lumia 900, Focus Flash, 2, and S, and HTC Titan II.

4G LTE[edit]

In a BBDO campaign for 4G and 4G LTE started in November 2012, Beck Bennett interviewed children in commercials directed by Jorma Taccone, with the slogan "It's not complicated." The children were asked whether fast or slow is better, or whether two is better than one.[69][70][71] Taccone said "The spots are 'guided' improv", meaning the children were allowed to be natural until others had to step in and help.[70]

Calling plans and features[edit]

AT&T Mobility sells a variety of wireless services, including individual plans, family plans, and GoPhone (prepaid) plans.

Mobile Share Plans[edit]

In 2014, AT&T introduced its Mobile Share Value plans. These plans included Unlimited Voice and Texting access, while data usage was on a tier-based structure with various overage rates.

These were succeeded by the Mobile Share Advantage plans in 2016, where instead of overage charges, were 2G data speeds are enacted (also known as throttling). These were also eventually succeeded by the AT&T Unlimited plans in 2017.

Mobile to Mobile[edit]

All postpaid monthly rate plans (and most prepaid plans) include unlimited minutes for calls to or from any of AT&T's wireless subscribers. Night and weekend minutes were deducted before unlimited M2M minutes until March 2010, in which AT&T stated on wireless bills that M2M minutes would no longer deplete N/W minutes on plans without unlimited N/W minutes. As of November 2009, all postpaid voice plans (except for the "Nation 450" ) include unlimited night and weekend usage. If all N&W voice minutes are used, calls placed to non-AT&T wireless customers are deducted from the monthly package of anytime minutes. Any unused "anytime" minutes rollover to the next month, and expire after 12 months if not used.

Mobile to Any Mobile[edit]

On February 10, 2011, AT&T started offering unlimited mobile calling to any mobile phone on any service provider bundled with unlimited messaging (text, picture, and video).[72][73]

AT&T A-List[edit]

As of September 2011 "AT&T A-List" is no longer offered, although it is still supported for existing customers who currently have it.

AT&T Unity[edit]

AT&T Unity is a service offered for users of landline and wireless AT&T service. It provides free unlimited calling to users of AT&T landline and wireless services. AT&T Unity customers also receive "Rollover" minutes and night and unlimited weekend minutes. (As of early 2010 "AT&T Unity" is no longer offered, although it is still supported for existing customers who have it.)

NumberSync[edit]

Main article: NumberSync

NumberSync was introduced in 2015. The service allows AT&T postpaid wireless customers to use one telephone number to send and receive calls and text messages across all of their supported devices.[74]

Mobile-phone insurance[edit]

AT&T Mobility allows its customers to have mobile phone insurance in case of loss or accidental damage. Asurion is the administrator of the insurance program from AT&T. All phones are covered under the mobile phone insurance plan except AT&T GoPhones.[75] Customers are required to pay a deductible for each time they make an insurance claim, and are only allowed two claims per 12-month period.

As of July 17, 2011 AT&T and Asurion announced that the Apple iPhone will be insurable with their Mobile Protection Pack service.

Slogans[edit]

  • "Your World. Close At Hand." (1999)
  • "What do you have to say?" (2000–2002)
  • "Fits you best" (2002–2004)
  • "Raising the bar" (2004–2006)
  • "More bars, In More places" (2006–2007)
  • "Your world. Delivered" (2007–2010)
  • "Rethink possible" (2010–2014)
  • "Mobilizing Your World" (2014–2017)
  • "Entertainment Your Way" (2017)
  • "More For Your Thing, That’s Our Thing" (2018–)

Controversies[edit]

[edit]

Cingular Wireless began its sponsorship of the #31 Chevrolet, owned by Richard Childress Racing, in the NASCARWinston Cup Series in 2002. Two years later, when Nextel Communications (now Sprint Corporation) purchased the naming rights to NASCAR's top division (rebranding the division as the Nextel Cup, and later the Sprint Cup), Cingular and Alltel, sponsor of the #12 Dodge (owned by Penske Racing and driven by Ryan Newman), were allowed to stay as sponsors under a grandfather clause. In early 2007, following its purchase by AT&T, Cingular began a re-branding effort to the AT&T Mobility brand. NASCAR quickly claimed that a clause in their contract with Sprint Nextel would not allow Cingular to change either the name or brand advertised on the #31 car.

After trying and failing to persuade NASCAR to approve the addition of the AT&T globe logo to the rear of the car, AT&T filed a lawsuit against NASCAR on March 16, 2007. On May 18, AT&T won a preliminary injunction in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta and, following a failed emergency motion for a stay by NASCAR on May 19, re-branded the #31 car, driven by Jeff Burton, in time for the Nextel All-Star Challenge that evening.[76][77] NASCAR was later granted an appeal to be heard on August 2.

On June 17, NASCAR announced it had filed a US$100 million lawsuit against AT&T and would like AT&T and all other telecommunications companies out of the sport in 2008.[78]

On August 13, a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit cleared the way for NASCAR to prevent AT&T from featuring its logo on the car. The 11th Circuit dismissed a lower court's ruling that prevented NASCAR from stopping AT&T's plans. The appeals court remanded the case to the district court.[79]

At first practice for the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 24, the #31 car was colored orange and black, but was bare; that is, associate sponsors appeared, but no primary sponsors were on the car, similar to Formula One cars run in races where tobacco advertising is prohibited. The pit crew wore grey Richard Childress Racing shirts and Burton had a plain orange fire suit with associate sponsors. The car, which carried a "subliminal advertising" scheme, arrived in a black hauler with only the number 31 on the side. NASCAR officials said the car would not have made it through inspection with the AT&T logos.[80] During that weekend, AT&T claimed that two alternate paint schemes proposed by AT&T — one advertising its "go phone" and another with the old Cingular slogan "more bars in more places" that AT&T recently brought back — were rejected by NASCAR. The Go Phone scheme had been used in the past.[81] NASCAR later denied these claims.[82]

The car remained bare on race night on August 25, although ESPN aired the AT&T logo during shots from its in-car camera. Fox Sports had done so earlier in the dispute, with the words "Cingular is the new AT&T" on-screen during these shots.

On September 7, 2007, a settlement was reached where AT&T Mobility could remain on the #31 car until the end of 2008, but the associate sponsorship of the #29 Nationwide SeriesHoliday Inn Chevrolets not affected, because they are in lower series.[83]

Richard Childress Racing announced the AT&T Mobility sponsorship will move to Grand American Road Racing Association sportscar racing in 2009 with the sponsorship of the Childress-Howard Motorsports #4 AT&T Pontiac Daytona Prototype sportscar. Childress is a part-owner of this team.

Data-throttling policy[edit]

In 2012, AT&T came under scrutiny for throttling the speed of data delivered to consumers with an unlimited data plan. The company has claimed that, despite its claim of network speeds, it is within its legal rights to reduce the speed of data to consumers who reach preset thresholds. In May 2012, Matt Spaccarelli, a truck driver, won a small claims lawsuit against the company for slowing down his service. A Simi Valley, California judge awarded Spaccarelli $850, agreeing that "unlimited" service shouldn't be subject to slowdowns.[84] Additionally, AT&T's user agreement does not permit class-action suits against the company.[85]

Mobility Administrative Fee[edit]

In May 2013, AT&T added a 61 cent fee per month per line to all of its wireless postpaid lines, including lines still under service contract. The fee appears "below the line" making it appear like a tax at the bottom of a customer's phone bill. This fee is thought to bring more than a half-billion dollars in a year for AT&T, which claims the fee is for covering the cost of cell sites and maintenance.[86]

Other AT&T wireless brands[edit]

References[edit]

Cingular Wireless logo, 2000–2004
Cellular One logo used by Dobson until acquisition by AT&T in November 2007

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