Cruises To Offer Cell Phone Service

From AT&T’s press release:

In a first for the U.S. wireless industry, AT&T Wireless and Maritime Telecommunications Network announced today that cruise ship passengers may soon enjoy the convenience of using their wireless phones while at sea.

The companies have formed a joint venture, Wireless Maritime Services, to develop and launch an innovative and affordable communications offering that will rely on a combination of satellite and wireless services to provide the cruise line industry and its passengers with on-board wireless service. The joint venture will combine MTN’s expertise in providing satellite services to the cruise industry with AT&T Wireless’ expertise in delivering wireless services to consumer and business travelers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We look forward to our joint venture with AT&T Wireless delivering truly global mobile service to ships in international waters,” said David Kagan, Chief Executive Officer of MTN. “Using this service, staying in touch will be as convenient for cruise ship passengers as pressing the send key on their own mobile phone.”

“We will make it possible for cruise passengers to place and receive calls, use short message service, and access the Internet using their own wireless phones, just as they do at home,” added Jordan Roderick, President of AT&T Wireless International. “We offer our customers the largest global voice and data coverage area of any North American carrier, and through this agreement we hope to extend service to the high seas.”

Today’s announcement is in keeping with MTN’s goal of offering only the most innovative and versatile communications capabilities to its clients. By entering into this joint venture, MTN — known for such industry firsts as its Internet Cafés, WiFi, and newspaper service at sea — will bring wireless communications to passengers’ own phones. This will enable MTN to offer its clients, including virtually all of the premier passenger cruise corporations, new and exciting ways to communicate instantly and reliably on board vessels from all corners of the world.

MTN, based in Miramar, Florida, is the leading provider of satellite-based communications, networking, and other services to the cruise and offshore oil and gas industries. AT&T Wireless, based in Redmond, Washington, provides extensive wireless coverage in North America, including advanced voice and data services throughout much of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

AT&T Wireless uses GSM technology, the global standard for wireless communications, which serves nearly 70 percent of the world’s wireless users. The company has an ever-growing list of roaming agreements around the world, currently enabling its customers with GSM/GPRS devices to make voice calls in more than 130 countries and access data services in more than 50 countries. In addition, many subscribers to wireless carriers outside the U.S. can use their GSM phones to roam on AT&T Wireless’ network when visiting the U.S. and parts of the Caribbean. These subscribers may also be able to take advantage of the new offering from Wireless Maritime Services.

The companies are currently working with several cruise lines and expect to introduce the service later this year.

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