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Cingular answers Siemens' call

Cingular Wireless will start selling phones made by Siemens. The first model, capable of snapping and e-mailing photos, will debut "in time for Christmas holiday shopping."

Cingular Wireless will start selling phones made by German phone maker Siemens later this year, the two companies announced Monday.

The first Siemens phone, the CT56 model capable of taking and e-mailing photographs, will debut "in time for Christmas holiday shopping," Cingular said.

By 2003, the nation's second-largest carrier will sell "any number" of additional Siemens phones, according to a Cingular representative.

Monday's announcement means that three different U.S. carriers--Cingular, T-Mobile Wireless and AT&T Wireless--now sell Siemens phones. It's not unusual for wireless carriers to offer multiple brands of phones, however. For instance, all of the nation's top five carriers sell phones by the "Big Three" cell phone makers Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola.

Siemens also unveiled five new wireless devices meant strictly for the U.S. market.

The phones all use the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) phone standard, which is used by about 70 percent of the world's wireless networks. There are three GSM carriers in the United States: AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile and Cingular Wireless.

The new line of U.S.-bound Siemens cell phones also include the M46, a picture-messaging cell phone made exclusively for T-Mobile Wireless. It will be available at T-Mobile stores Nov. 1. A T-Mobile representative could not be reached Monday for comment.

Siemens' U.S. lineup includes the Siemens SX56 PocketPC phone, which AT&T Wireless now sells for $550. The phone has a color touch screen with handwriting recognition, plus an MP3 player.

Another Siemens handset, the A56, is an entry-level phone stripped of many of the more superfluous features of more expensive models. Siemens did not divulge which, if any, American carriers will sell the A56.

Siemens is also going to sell the S56 in the United States. The color screen phone has a detachable camera plus Bluetooth, a wireless technology for connecting the phone to computers or laptops. Siemens did not say what, if any, carriers will sell the S56, or when it will be available.