Cingular to Offer Global High-Speed Roaming

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Cingular Wireless announced today that it will be first U.S. cellular operator to offer worldwide high-speed roaming. Cingular GlobalConnect will offer mobile broadband service in more than two dozen countries using a five-band cellular PC card from Option Wireless.

Cingular’s GlobalConnect plan will be based on the Option GlobeTrotter GT MAX LaptopConnect card, the first five-band cellular device to reach the market. The card can connect to EDGE networks using all four major bands (850, 900, 1800, and 1900 MHz), but can also access UMTS/HSDPA networks at both the 850/1900 MHz bands used in North America and the 2100 MHz band used internationally. Plus, the GT MAX card also offers Wi-Fi support (just in case your laptop didn’t already have it) and supports both Windows and Macintosh computers.

In real world terms, HSDPA service currently offers download speeds in the range of 400 to 700 Kbps in 16 U.S. cities; other sites with UMTS coverage offer bandwidth in the 200 to 300 Kbps range. EDGE networks typically offer mobile bandwidth in the arena of 100 to 200 Kbps.

Cingular plans to sell the card for $99.99 with a two-year domestic plan or a once-year GlobalConnect plan: the North American plan will be priced at $109.99 a month, while the overseas plan will cost $149.99 a month and offers service in China, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Germany, France, the U.K., Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Spain, and Italy. Both plans offer unlimited domestic data and 100 MB of data transfer overseas.

“The need for broadband connections continues to move from our offices and living rooms to almost anywhere in the world,” said Kris Rinne, Cingular’s CTO. “As more GSM carriers upgrade to UMTS and HSDPA, we see ourselves becoming the travel agents for 3G worldwide.”

“We are delighted to offer Cingular’s customers in the U.S. and overseas this truly innovative product. In today’s world where global travel is now the norm, mobile professionals demand instant and speedy access to their corporate applications and information, any time; anywhere,” said Jan Callewaert, Option’s CEO. “The unveiling of the GT MAX today further demonstrates Option’s leading market position in both ergonomic design and wireless data technology.”

Cingular says the GT MAX card and the new data plans will be available in March, 2006.