RealTime IT News

Cingular Plans $80M Upgrade

In the second stage of an infrastructure upgrade, Cingular Wireless will add more than 200 cell sites in Georgia to provide better coverage on its advanced network.

This portion of the project will cost the Atlanta company $80 million. Earlier this year, Cingular spent $200 million in the Peach state. Nearly half the new sites should be operational by year's end, with the expansion to continuing through 2004.

Patrick Foarde, a spokesman for Cingular, said the company does not release specifics about equipment types and vendors.

In the past, the company has used equipment from Ericsson and Nortel in its Georgia upgrades, he said.

The company announced its move to a GSM/GRPS network in August, and has rolled out the technology in about three-quarters of its markets.

GSM is the Global Systems for Mobile Communications. Worldwide, 880 million people in 179 countries use this technology, more than 70 percent of the total wireless market.

What GSM delivers for voice, GPRS technology delivers for data. General Packet Radio System, is an enhancement for GSM that transmits and receives data in packets. It provides "always-on" connectivity and greater bandwidth and connection speeds.

Cingular, a joint venture between SBC Communications and BellSouth , has 23 million customers in 43 U.S. markets.

It recently moved to increase its presence, bidding $27.6 million to U.S. Unwired for additional spectrum and operations in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Today's announcement helps confirm the view of many industry watchers that both wireless and landline carriers are spending money to enhance their networks again, so they can offer advanced voice, data and video services that will generate new revenue.