Cingular Lays Out UMTS Plans; Don't Plan To Wait For Handsets

There’s no real surprise in finding out that Cingular plans to spend $4 billion upgrading their network to offer UMTS service, but there are a few interesting nuggets to pick out of the agreement. The winners here are Ericsson, Lucent and Siemens who have won the upgrade contracts. However, even though AT&T launched UMTS with a handset first strategy, Cingular is following just about every other 3G offering by indicating they’re going to focus on datacards first, and move to handset support at a later date. Of course, in terms of timing, they’re going to be way behind Verizon. They’re not expecting UMTS handsets until the end of 2006. Verizon is already testing EV-DO handsets and expecting to roll out a more widespread offering starting in January. Update: One other interesting part of this, actually, is the plan to immediately move towards offering HSDPA, sometimes referred to as 3.5G, as it’s an upgrade to basic UMTS, which should allow for higher speeds. So, it looks like Cingular is trying to make up for being late by leapfrogging basic 3G to go for 3.5G.

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