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AT&T cell phones reach out to the Net

AT&T is planning a new service tol allow consumers to surf the Web with a cell phone.

    AT&T Wireless Services announced today that it plans to unveil a cellular phone and service that will allow users to surf the Net.

    The service, called AT&T PocketNet Phone, will allow users to display data and send and receive email on the $500 phone's three-line display screen. Users will also be able to view interactive applications that will allow them to make purchases, book reservations, and check local movie listings with the cell phone. Graphics and multimedia will be left out when surfing the Net.

    Corporate and independent Web developers will be able to program the phone for remote access to intranets. PocketNet will cost about $30 a month above the average existing cellular voice services, plus additional by-the-minute charges that have not yet been determined, according to AT&T.

    Today's announcement was made the day after AT&T said it will close its PersonaLink Services propriety wireless service for PDAs on August 30, as expected. The moves are part of the telecommunications giant's overall strategy of leaving the proprietary wireless market in favor of Internet connections for handheld devices.

    Mitsubishi Electric America and PCSI, a Cirrus Logic company, are developing the new cellular phones for AT&T by using software designed by Unwired Planet. Called UP.Link, the software includes the Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML), the UP.View browser, and the UP.Link server. HDML is an open programming specification derived from the Internet standard Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).

    The software, called UP.Link has also been licensed to Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, Comcast Cellular Communications, NYNEX Mobils, and GTE. PocketNet is expected to be unveiled this year to the corporate market and to the commercial market in the first quarter of 1997.

    Related story:
    AT&T severs PersonaLink for PDAs