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Say goodbye, then hello to AT&T phones

Mobile brand reverts to the mother ship

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Cingular, soon to be the United States' largest cellular network, will drop the AT&T brand six months after it completes its merger with AT&T Wireless. After that, AT&T will be free to launch its own cellular services under the brand.

In May, the phone giant inked a reseller agreement with Sprint PCS to rebadge Sprint's phones under the Death Star logo, potentially making it one of the US' biggest "virtual operators". AT&T has also raced into the domestic VOIP business with all guns blazing.

AT&T decided to spin off its wireless division during the dot.com era when wireless companies were given inflated valuations. Given the conventional wisdom that AT&T Wireless isn't highly regarded by the public, Cingular probably can't wait to see the back of it. AT&T Wireless' billing and service quality were rated above average until its botched introduction of number portability sent many subscribers racing to new cellphone providers. The company lost over 360,000 in the first quarter of this year alone.

By the end of the year, when the merger is expected to be completed, the two largest US cellphone carriers - Verizon and Cingular - will not only be former Baby Bells, but two synthetic brands based on very bad puns. ®

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