While it's still true (for the moment at least) that Cingular won't coerce former AT&T Wireless subscribers onto official Cingular plans, the carrier is starting to make it difficult for customers who use phones with older technologies. Beginning in September, Cingular will start imposing a $5 surcharge on subscribers who use TDMA and analog phones in an effort to get them to switch to the carrier's GSM network. Yesterday Cingular told the Associated Press that it decided to initiate the surcharge because "the cost of using [TDMA and analog networks] is increasing considerably." According to the AP about 4.7 million Cingular customers still use the older technologies and the charge is supposed to generate $23.5 million per month in new revenue.
The FCC requires cell phone carriers to provide analog service until 2008 as long as they still have subscribers using the technology. And while there are no federal requirements regarding TDMA service, Cingular has pledged to keep its TDMA network active until 2008, as well. Nevertheless, the carrier is saying that the older technologies leave less room in its network to connect calls and provide data for GSM customers.