Cingular Wireless plans to sell interactive unit

Fund manager Cerberus Capital Management to buy the Mobitex network, used to support a quarter of the world's BlackBerry users.

Ben Charny Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Ben Charny
covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
Ben Charny
Cingular Wireless said Monday that it plans to sell a wireless data network that supports about a fourth of the world's BlackBerry users to a New York-based fund manager.

Terms of the deal between Cingular Wireless and Cerberus Capital Management were not disclosed. Cerberus and its affiliated entities manage funds valued at more than $14 billion.

Representatives of neither company immediately returned calls seeking comment.

The purchase will include Cingular's 10-year-old Mobitex wireless data infrastructure, which provides service to more than 400 companies and an estimated quarter of the world's BlackBerry users. Manufactured by Research In Motion, BlackBerry mobile e-mail devices have taken the corporate world by storm and spawned a whole generation of copycats. There are 1.34 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide, according to RIM.

Also included in the sale are customer service operations, information technology systems and what Cingular Wireless described in a statement as a majority of the unit's customers.

"We are...creating a focused wireless data network operator," according to Cingular Interactive President Charles Nelson, who is expected to continue in his current position, along with the rest of the unit's management. "We expect to assume a strong leadership position in providing new-generation enterprise solutions to customers."

Cingular Wireless intends to continue offering Mobitex data products through a reseller agreement, it said in a statement describing the transaction.