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Cingular, the largest mobile operator in the US, has signed Ericsson, Lucent and Siemens to build a 3G network.

Beginning next year the telco will build networks in "a number of major urban and suburban markets". Cingular has reached agreement with Nokia to improve its existing GSM/GPRS/EDGE network and "possibly support the deployment of its 3G UMTS network". Nokia, Motorola and LG have agreed to provide handsets and other devices in the last quarter of 2005. Financial terms were not released.

Kris Rinne, chief technology officer at Cingular, said: "The selection of these vendors will bring tremendous intellectual capital to the team as we work to achieve our common goal to bring the next generation of mobile multimedia services to consumers and businesses...These companies have the expertise to put a network in place that will turn the promise of 3G into reality."

The new network will offer average data speeds of 400 to 700 kilobits per second, versus 135 kilobits per second on the current EDGE network, and "bursts to several megabits per second on capable devices." Cingular's press release is here.

Cingular has started integration planning to bring its and AT&T's networks together. Cingular paid $41bn for AT&T wireless in October. Subscribers should see improved network coverage and fewer blocked calls in future months, the company says. ®

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