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Cingular Dangles Call Forwarding in Bundle

Number portability along with bundled services are taking on a new look under a calling system about to roll out from Cingular, SBC and BellSouth that integrates wireless numbers with wireline numbers.

Cingular Wireless, whose parent companies are SBC Communications and BellSouth , plans to roll out a new wireless service that lets wireless phone customers forward their calls to a wireline number.

The "FastForward" device that helps forward the call is a cradle-like device. When it's plugged in and "holding" a Cingular phone, calls to the cellular customer's number can be automatically forwarded to a wireline number. The companies said the device also charges the phone while it's in the cradle. The device and service will be available October first.

The new service is part of a bigger plan by voice carriers who pledge to help simplify calling plans. They are also trying to make it easier for customers to stick with one carrier that can bundle their wireless, wireline and even high-speed data services on one phone line.

To that end, Cingular said it would provide the service for free to SBC residential local phone company customers who receive a single bill for Cingular wireless and landline services, and to BellSouth customers who sign up for a combined bill and two other features.