Cingular Adding EDGE To 3G Smartphones

Is Cingular ahead of the smartphone pack or simply playing catch-up?

That’s what some of the analyst chatter is about the wireless carrier, which announced it will begin selling the first 3G PDA in North America Nov. 16.

Sporting a $399.99 price tag and slide-out keyboard, the new device offers business users 3G speed, GPS features and familiar applications. However, with the new features comes an admission Cingular’s 3G network may be playing catch-up with competitors Verizon and Sprint .

Cingular’s Broadband Connect Service, which the 8525 will use to provide up to 700Kbps downloads and 384Kbps uploads, is “still less than the competition, but gaining quickly,” John Kampfe, a spokesperson, told

Because the Broadband Connect Service is limited — 134 markets — when the PDA can”t find a 3G connection, it will use Cingular’s EDGE network, available in more than 13,000 locations.

Wi-Fi connectivity will also be available, according to Cingular.

Since GSM countries are adopting UMTS/HSDPA as their path to 3G speeds, the PDA smartphone can be used outside of North America, Cingular said in a statement.

Powered by Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0, the new PDA lets business customers access familiar applications, such as Outlook and PowerPoint. With 3G connectivity, those applications can work with even larger files, according to the carrier.

The introduction of the 3G PDA will enable Cingular subscribers to use the device as a wireless modem, downloading email to a PC while also takinging on the mobile phone.

However, noting the small number of 3G users in the U.S., Gartner analyst Todd Kort said the announcement pointed more to Cingular’s desire not to be left behind.

“They are playing catch-up with Verizon,” he said. Cingular doesn’t want Verizon to be the only 3G game in town, according to Kort.

Cingular 8525
HTC’s smartphone/pda ‘8525’ for Cingular
Source: Cingular

The new device will also include Cingular’s first location-based service, TeleNav GPS Navigator. From TeleNav, 8525 users can get turn-by-turn voice and on-screen directions.

Again, Kort called the service no big deal. GPS is popular in Europe, but just catching on in the U.S., he said.

In a nod to its recent decision to support all-you-can-eat digital music downloads, Cingular said the new PDA offers an optional 1GB Micro-SD card capable of storing about 250 songs. In addition, the device includes a two-megapixel camera and Windows Media Player 10.

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