For $25 a month, subscribers of the service can transfer data at speeds of 220 to 320 kilobits per second (kbps) on the Motorola Inc. A845 or Nokia Corp. 6651 mobile phones, according to AT&T officials.
Both phones cost $300 and require a one-year contract. Subscribers also can purchase a streaming audio and video service from RealNetworks Inc. for an additional $5 a month.
AT&T Wireless is also offering an $80-a-month version of the service targeted for businesses, which allows users to access the high-speed service on PDAs or laptops as well, with a modem codeveloped by Lucent Technologies Inc. and Novatel Wireless Inc. The modem costs $149.99 after a rebate.
The Redmond, Wash., cell-phone carrier is spending $200 million to push out its new service, called 3G UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommuncations System), into those initial six cities, officials said.
Todays announcement fulfills AT&Ts agreement with Japanese cell-phone service provider NTT DoCoMo, which owns 16 percent of AT&T Wireless. DoCoMo, which already offers a similar service in Japan, teamed up with AT&T three years ago to extend the service to the United States. AT&T would have had to pay DoCoMo nearly $10 billion if it did not roll out the service by years end.
AT&T Wireless plans to expand its service to other U.S. cities following the close of its merger with Cingular Wireless LLC—a $41 billion deal that will create the countrys largest cell phone carrier.
"Were only a few months away from closing the Cingular deal," AT&T Wireless CEO John Zeglis said in a conference call Tuesday. "Once we have a combined company, our spectrum portfolio will allow us to launch in a lot more markets than either of us could do alone."
In a statement Tuesday, Cingular deputy chief technology officer Kris Rinne agreed that the merger would bring growth.
"While todays launch is a first step in widening access of 3G services, only quick federal approval of Cingulars acquisition of AT&T Wireless will make this a reality nationwide," Rinne said. "Combining the two companies will provide enough spectrum to facilitate the growth of 3G services, and to support the existing wireless technologies used today."