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AT&T Wireless has upgraded its GPRS phone network to support faster data, turning on the EDGE enhancements. The carrier says that the upgrade will be complete by the middle of next year, but AT&TW has launched a $79 a month, all you can eat data plan and made available a $249 SonyEricsson PC card, or $149 after rebate. That's a similar deal to Verizon's high speed data plan.

EDGE supports bit rates of 110 to 130 kbits/second with higher bursts, a significant improvement over the 20-40 kbits/second most users experience today, although in saturated areas, the speed can drop to as slow as 10 kbit/s. It's really a bundle of radio enhancements including better encoding and retransmission.

AT&TW says the upgrade will be complete by the middle of next year, reaching 215 million potential subscribers. Cingular announced its EDGE upgrade in July. But where are the phones? Nokia has three versions of two models, the 3200 and the 6200 which can be used in the US (the 6220 is a European/Asian version) but it says it will have 15 models on the market next year, and expects to have moved 100 million EDGE handsets by the end of next year. ®

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