AT&T Wireless Debuts mMode

The wireless data service will be similar to NTT's iMode service, which is popular in Japan.

AT&T Wireless Services Inc. today unveiled a high-speed wireless data service for consumers called mMode.

The service will be similar to NTT DoCoMo Inc.s iMode service, which is popular in Japan. DoCoMo, which owns 16 percent of AT&T Wireless, was integral in designing mMode.

The service runs on the GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) network and is available in markets that AT&T already has upgraded to GPRS: Chicago; Detroit; Indianapolis; Seattle; Las Vegas; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Kansas City, Mo.; Miami; Fort Lauderdale; Orlando, Fla.; Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla; and West Palm Beach, Fla. The company also plans to offer mMode in San Diego later this month.

Initially, mMode will be largely a consumer offering, and packaged accordingly.

"We dont expect for customers to understand megabytes and kilobytes," said Jeremy Pemble, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless in Redmond, Wash. The company has a "plan calculator" on its site that guides customers to plans that match their likely usage, he said.

MMode comes in three packages. The "Mini" plan costs $2.99 per month plus two cents for each kilobyte of data. The "Mega" plan comes with one megabyte of data and costs $7.99 per month, with each additional kilobyte costing one cent. The "Max" plan, which comes with two megabytes of data, costs $12.49 per month and costs a penny for each additional megabyte.

The mMode screen is basically a portal, with links to various categories ranging from information to games. Certain applications deemed "premium" will cost extra to use. Customers can identify these by the dollar sign that appears next to them on the mMode menu, Pemble said. (The Star Trek game costs $2.99, for example.)

This summer the company plans to offer a premium corporate e-mail redirector service. Other mMode services, due later this year, include digital messaging via a camera that snaps on to the phone.

mMode will work on one of four phones that customers can buy through AT&T. They range in price from $79.99 to $199.99.