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AT&T, Nokia team on next-generation phones

The company's wireless unit plans to work with the cell phone maker to develop a new line of mobile phones capable of high-speed Net surfing.

AT&T Wireless and Nokia agreed today to work together to develop a new line of mobile phones capable of high-speed Net surfing, videoconferencing, streaming music and other next-generation features.

The two companies are looking down the road to the day when upgrades to the wireless phone networks allow Web surfing at speeds far faster than today's connections.

AT&T plans to upgrade its network beginning late next year to a next-generation technology that should allow such activities as Web surfing with full-color graphics or listening to MP3 songs online.

The new technology will send voice signals using Internet protocols, so callers also will be able to surf while they're on the phone.

Like other carriers moving to one of several flavors of next-generation wireless technology, Ma Bell is still in the process of pulling together partnerships with phone makers and infrastructure providers. Several weeks ago, the company announced a deal with Nortel Networks to work together on a trial project for the fast Internet-based networks.

The deal with Nokia, the largest manufacturer of mobile phones, will help boost AT&T's momentum as it moves toward the faster technology. The deal will focus on developing "enhancements" to the basic next-generation services, such as audio streaming and videoconferencing using the cell phones, the companies said.

"This collaboration will help AT&T Wireless Services speed our time to market with advanced products and services customers will demand in the future," Rod Nelson, chief technology officer for AT&T Wireless, said in a statement.