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AT&T Wireless is back

AT&T Wireless is back

All right, this wireless merger madness just needs to stop because it's getting ridiculous now. And I mean really ridiculous. Remember in late 2004 when we thought we forever bade farewell to AT&T Wireless due to its merger with Cingular? Well, it appears we were wrong. Though I'm not surprised, I'm still a bit shocked that the AT&T Wireless name is set to magically come back to life next year. How can it all go full circle, you ask? Well it's a bit complicated, to say the least, so a short history lesson is in order.

Originally AT&T started AT&T Wireless to capture the then-infant cell phone market. In the late 1990s, however, AT&T spun off its wireless division into its own company before it was purchased by Cingular a year and a half ago. Cingular then ditched the AT&T Wireless moniker to spend a reported $4 billion on building the Cingular brand (complete with the little orange logo guy) as the nation's largest carrier. AT&T then swooped in and gobbled up SBC and BellSouth, Cingular's co-owners, for a hefty few billion dollars each.

So now that AT&T owns 100 percent of Cingular, it has announced it will replace the Cingular name in 2007 with, you guessed it, AT&T Wireless. Say good-bye to the color orange and the little springy logo. According to Ad Age, the name change will cost $2 billion--get ready for rate-plan hikes--to ditch what the company spent $4 billion trying to build. As Nicole Lee wrote in March, AT&T plans to bundle services, and it hopes the name change will make it easier to do so. But as for me, I just don't get it.