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AT&T Wireless goes with Java

The carrier plans to launch new cell phones that use Sun Microsystems? software to deliver games and other entertainment.

AT&T Wireless plans to launch new cell phones that use Sun Microsystem's Java software to deliver games and other entertainment.

The carrier will start selling three phones that use Java in about two weeks, AT&T Wireless spokesman Jeremy Pemble said Tuesday. The nation's third largest carrier will also soon introduce a lineup of downloads dominated by entertainment and games, he said.

Nextel Communications, Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS already use Java to sell downloadable games from Sega, as well as weather forecasts and business applications. The downloads cost 99 cents to $5 each and last for a month before expiring.

Cell phones have long offered rudimentary games, but Java enables the delivery of more sophisticated ones.

Cell phone makers have two downloading technologies to choose from. One is Java, which lets a program run on different devices without having to be rewritten for each one. Cell phones download a "virtual machine" that translates Java programs inside into instructions the phone can understand.

Java's competitor is Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW) from cell phone patent-holder Qualcomm. BREW does essentially the same thing as Java. Several Asian carriers and Verizon Wireless sell BREW phones and BREW downloads.

Pemble said the Java-powered devices that AT&T Wireless will begin selling are the Nokia 6310, the Motorola T720 and Research In Motion's BlackBerry 5810, which doubles as a phone. The $130 Nokia model includes Bluetooth, a short-range wireless technology. The Motorola T720, which has a color screen, costs $250. The BlackBerry 5810, which costs $300, is available only to AT&T Wireless corporate customers. All of the prices are after rebates for signing a service contract.