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The Cingular factor in the AT&T-BellSouth merger

The Cingular factor in the AT&T-BellSouth merger

While AT&T's recent announcement of a BellSouth merger has many people up in arms over the return of a Ma Bell-like monopoly, there still remains the impact that the merger would have on Cingular, currently the country's largest cell phone provider. Prior to the merger, AT&T owned 60 percent of Cingular, and BellSouth owned the other 40 percent. If the merger goes through, all three companies would become a single enormous entity. AT&T is selling this as a way for fixed phone and mobile networks to converge in a unified system, integrating wireless, wired, and Internet Protocol services over a single global network. This would place it as a direct competitor against most of the major cable companies. There have already been signs of change; Cingular recently launched its high-speed UMTS service, which supposedly reaches near-broadband speeds. This coincides nicely with its plans to implement an unlicensed mobile access (UMA) technology, which will let cell phone connections move seamlessly from cellular networks to public-access hot spots (as long as you have a dual-mode cell phone). A lot of it sounds rather pie in the sky right now, and it remains to be seen if this will end up costing consumers in the long run. Still, we're hoping to see some good things come out of this, hopefully resulting in accessible, affordable broadband from anywhere in the world.