Cingular deploys world's first 2.5G EDGE network: TechDirt analyzes EDGE, a successor to GPRS that can offer up to 170 Kbps of raw speed through a software upgrade to cellular systems. EDGE was originally thought of as an also-ran, but the near-term success of GSM's competitor standard CDMA in the form of 1xRTT makes EDGE a better transition.
What's great for me, of course, is that I have Cingular service, and have been hoping that they would offer some kind of 2.5G option that was worthwhile and affordable. I currently use GSM (9600 bps) for data calls because the minutes for usage are taken out of my regular pot -- including the thousands of free weekend minutes, which is when I typically use it when traveling. GPRS under Cingular is $8/month plus $30 per Mb after the first megabyte.
EDGE could be a compromise: fast enough to allow low enough surcharges to make it a good add-on. But possibly only if they decide to bundle some form of Wi-Fi with it -- Cingular is a holdout in the cell world with no public plans to link any of their billing plans or networks with Wi-Fi.