AT&T Wireless launches mobile Web service in US

By George A. Chidi, Jr., IDG News Service |  Networking

AT&T Wireless Services Inc. launched its mMode consumer Web service for mobile phones on Tuesday in a dozen markets in the U.S. The GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) offering will allow high-speed data transfers to and from wireless handsets.

AT&T Wireless tied the new offering to the mLife advertising campaign launched during the Super Bowl in late January. The service itself is modeled on the popular I-mode wireless service offered by Japanese mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc. DoCoMo owns 16 percent of AT&T Wireless. GPRS enables data transfers up to 144K bps (bits per second).

The mMode service includes features such as instant messaging, content downloads like sports scores or news stories, and the ability to connect with personalized data like address books and calendars.

The service requires a handset compatible with the GSM (General System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS wireless networks. AT&T Wireless offers three compatible phones: Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB's T68 model and Nokia Corp.'s 8390 model, both at $199.99, and Motorola Inc.'s P73821 Timeport model at $79.99. The company will soon launch a multiband handset from Siemens AG that will be capable of operating on wireless networks in Europe and Asia, AT&T Wireless said.

AT&T launched mMode service in Chicago; Detroit; Indianapolis; Seattle; Las Vegas; Phoenix; Portland, Oregon; Kansas City, Missouri; and the Florida markets of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg and West Palm Beach. The company plans to begin mMode service in San Diego later this month, and will add cities as it upgrades its network throughout the year.

Basic service costs US$2.99 a month, with additional charges of $0.02 per kilobyte of data uploaded or downloaded. A $7.99 monthly pricing plan provides 1M byte of data transfer without additional charges, and cuts the price per kilobyte after that to $0.01. The premium plan at $12.49 provides 2M bytes of data before $0.01 per kilobyte charges.

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