Cingular: What The Merger Means To You

With the merger between AT&T and BellSouth, AT&T has total control over Cingular wireless. What does this mean to you?

• It’s likely that the name Cingular will be phased out, because AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Edward Whitacre prefers the AT&T brand, and because Cingular will become “the heart” of AT&T. Bye, cute orange dot thing.

• AT&T will begin offering bundles with wireless service. “Consumers will get the choice of signing up for a new package of mobile phone and Internet service rather than the traditional bundle of land-line phone and Internet service,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

• Wi-fi phones? “AT&T has been testing cellphones that can run on Wi-Fi networks when at home, which could let consumers save money on their mobile phone bills and perhaps get better reception indoors, the paper said.”

• And now the bad news. The WSJ reported that AT&T will begin selling advertising on mobile phones, television, and Internet access services this year.

Ut-oh…—MEGHANN MARCO
AT&T to push wireless, seek revenue in ads: paper [MSNMoney]

Comments

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  1. Jesse McBesse says:

    oh hell. any way to use this to get out of my contract???

  2. Karl says:

    So, just to recap… A while back, Cingular acquired AT&T Wireless and renamed the service to… Cingular Blue. Shortly after being acquired, they sent me a letter stating that my $300 phone was no longer fully compatible with their network (AT&T Wireless used only the 1900 MHz GSM band, while Cingular had a hybrid 850/1900 MHz network, and AT&T Wireless phones would not accept a Cingular SIM), and offered expensive “upgrades.” Of course, I’m still using that original phone without any problems.

    Fast forward to today. It’s likely that they’ll switch the name to… AT&T Wireless. What will happen with existing Cingular customers? Will there be a difference between new AT&T and old customers? Will they switch their GSM operator ID back to AT&T’s? This has the disasterous effect of blocking new AT&T SIMs in Cingular phones. Cingular refused to unlock old AT&T phones, so I doubt they’ll unlock Cingular phones to use AT&T SIMs.

    Of course, this is mostly speculation on my part, but given the way they handled the old AT&T Wireless/Cingular merger, I wouldn’t be surprised if customers get screwed yet again.

  3. Vinny says:

    Poor Jack. Cut down in his prime.

  4. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I have my doubts about this merger. I honestly don’t think it will be good for the consumer in terms of pricing and quality of service. And I’m sure they’re going to retire old pricing plans and implement new ones. Customers will either have to upgrade to a higher calling plan, or be forced to convert to cheaper pre-paid calling plans.

    As for hardware.. I have to agree with Karl’s concerns. I’ve heard similar stories on the ATT Wireless/Cingular forums. For those that don’t know, ATT/Cingular has their own customer forum. You can search through some of the older posts and read through people’s experience with the blue to orange conversion.

    As for me, I’m still on an old calling plan and I haven’t bought a phone under contract in years. Unlocked phones are becoming more common these days. You can buy them on Amazon, you can buy them on ebay, and you can even buy them directly from Motorola. Having an unlocked phone and not being under a contract offers more flexibility and makes it easier to jump ship to T-Mobile or any other GSM provider in your area.

  5. FLConsumer says:

    I had a similar story to Karl’s, ‘though I dumped AT&T/Cingular, even after they gave me a new phone. The signal was marginal at best, dropped calls were the norm rather than the exception, and waiting 45 minutes on hold to reach a cust. service rep is unacceptable.

    There’s GOOD reason why they’d want to use WiFi — their network sucks.

    In the meantime, I’ve been using my PDA as a SoftPhone for awhile now, no need to pay a cell co $$$ for that “luxury”.

  6. orielbean says:

    Has ANY merger EVER offered actual lower prices to existing account holders / customers?? I’m sure I am wrong on some counts, but the endless appetite for conglomeration is not targeted at helping customers. Fewer choices = less competition = higher cost.

  7. spanky says:

    Karl, I just got my kid an unlocked triband Motorola phone from an online store for his long out of contract AT&T Wireless account.

    I initially checked to see if there was any way he could get a break on prices for their locked phones without committing to a new contract, but they got really snooty and acted as though they were doing him a favor out of the goodness of their hearts to continue to accept his timely payments for his account. It was pretty clear that the older, out of contract accounts get no breaks and no customer service.

    There’s just no benefit to getting your phone through Cingular. Not only are the phones crippled, but they jack the prices up so they can claim greater savings when they lock someone into a long term contract.

    Either way, you overpay, whether by locking into a crappy two year contract or by paying about double the phone’s street price upfront.

  8. acambras says:

    Spanky, I gotta ask –

    Was your kid’s new unlocked triband Motorola phone dripping with racist child porn???

    ‘Cause you might be able to score a free gift card and 15 minutes out of this. ;-)

  9. “AT&T will begin offering bundles with wireless service. “Consumers will get the choice of signing up for a new package of mobile phone and Internet service rather than the traditional bundle of land-line phone and Internet service,””

    I would actually do this, except that there’d be no cost savings for me because I pay NINE FUCKING FIFTY for the privilege of having a phone line into my home in an urban area on a home that’s been here (with the same damned phone line coming off the same damned pole) for 57 years. Because AT&T classes me as a “rural” area and I therefore pay for “rural” service.

    Somebody should tell the property tax man about that, because if I pay rural phone costs, I should get to pay rural property tax rates.

    Anyway, the point is, it’s the line fee that’s outrageous, not the other costs. If they’d bundle me high-speed internet and cellular and REMOVE the line fee, I’d switch in a second. Hell, I’d even subscribe to Dish.

  10. spanky says:

    acambras: “Was your kid’s new unlocked triband Motorola phone dripping with racist child porn???”

    Oh, hell no!

    When I was his age, we had to print out our ASCII art racist child porn on greenbar paper and then tape it to our rotary dial telephones.

    No wonder kids these days have no initiative.

  11. Mr. Gunn says:

    Just to be clear – show me an ad when I turn on, dial, or use the web on my phone and you have just lost me as a paying customer.

    Now, if you wanted to go to ad-supported free service, by all means, let’s talk.

  12. Keter says:

    Old AT&T Wireless = good coverage area, perfect billing, good customer service

    Bought out by Cingular = good coverage, screwed up billing, pleasant but ineffective customer service, a phone that now claims I’m always ‘roaming’

    New AT&T = what’s left to screw up? They reduce the coverage area and outsource CS to a third world country?

  13. Coronagold says:

    Several years ago I thought, “I wonder when they’ll they start running Pepsi & Taco Bell ads after you dial your phone.”

    Now I know. Thanks for the warning.