Cingular has successful bid for AT&T Wireless -- and where's the data discussion in all this?: The coverage of the AT&T Wireless deal focused almost exclusively on customer acquisition, marketing budgets, infrastructure, and voice revenue, despite the growing certainty that next-generation (3G) cell data and voice services will be the biggest competitive factors for U.S.-based carriers in the remainder of this decade.
AT&T Wireless has nationwide EDGE (about 100 Kbps top realistic speed, but more like high-modem speeds reliably). Cingular has GPRS, but last year was saying they would be building out EDGE quickly, and then hasn't discussed it since. The combined company will obviously focus its efforts on a quicker rollout of W-CDMA, the GSM evolution standard for 3G data/voice, especially with the commitment of Verizon Wireless of $1 billion to fully deploy 1xEvDO (up to 400 Kbps) nationwide this year. (Verizon Wireless has overnight become the No. 2 U.S. carrier, pending approval of the Cingular acquisition of AT&T Wireless.)
A not-so-obscure factoid missed in all of the reporting I've seen about AT&T Wireless is its requirement to repay a $6.1 billion -- yes, BILLION -- loan to DoCoMo if they don't have four U.S. cities set up by Dec. 31, 2004, with commercially offered 3G data services. (Here's an article from last July about it.) EDGE is 2.5G and doesn't qualify, as I understand it, but I haven't seen an update on the story.
It's strange that in a $41 billion deal a loan of $6.1 billion that would need to be repaid if conditions weren't met that are currently unmet wasn't highlighted as one of the liabilities of acquiring the company. I can only hope that Cingular did more due diligence than some of the business press.