"DSL GURU" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]
> $80 /month for unlimited data.
>
> http://www.attwireless.com/speed/
>
> but its for use with an AT&T Wireless modem card, not for phones.


From Forbes News Alert:

NEW YORK - Big computer problems at AT&T Wireless have strangled the
wireless company in the past two weeks, making it impossible to upgrade or
add customers to its so-called next-generation Global System for Mobile
Communications/General Packet Radio Service network.

Wireless Frenzy

Dealers have complained the system has been down more than it has been up,
frustrating attempts to activate customers since Nov. 1. As of Tuesday
afternoon, the computers were back up, but hold times at call centers were
running as long as 80 minutes as employees scrambled to catch up. Employees
in AT&T (nyse: T - news - people ) stores said the company was "thousands of
orders behind," due to a software glitch that crashed company computers.
Most were advising customers last weekend to come back in a week or longer.

AT&T Wireless (nyse: AWE - news - people ) spokesman Mark Siegel said late
Nov. 18 that problems related to the outage were "not quite cleared up," but
the situation was improving. He declined to be more specific about how many
orders the company was behind or how many customers it might have lost.
Siegel downplayed the outage by saying GSM/GPRS was only 3 million, or about
14%, of AT&T's 22 million customers.

But analysts were taking the computer meltdown seriously. GSM accounted for
about half of the 2 million gross additions last quarter. GSM is also is a
sweet spot: AT&T, like most carriers, sees its biggest potential for growth
by hooking customers on Web surfing, sending photos, downloading ring tones
and other services offered only on its upgraded GSM network.

The outage also comes as AT&T is making a major advertising push to sell its
new line of GSM/GPRS phones, attempting to get customers to sign long-term
contracts before they ditch AT&T for competitors. Cell phone customers will
be able to switch cell phone companies after Nov. 24, taking their old phone
number with them. Verizon Communication's (nyse: VZ - news - people )
Verizon Wireless, Sprint PCS (nyse: PCS - news - people ) and Cingular
Wireless, the BellSouth (nyse: BLS - news - people ) and SBC Communications
(nyse: SBC - news - people ) venture, are lining up to start poaching
customers with cut-rate deals.

"This is not the time when you want to be having network and customer
service issues," says Will Power, analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co.

So just how bad could this hurt earnings? Power estimates that AT&T usually
has about 80,000 gross GSM additions per week, or about 1 million per
quarter before subtracting disconnects.

The wireless carrier may have lost as many as 160,000 customers because of
the software snafu. Bear, Stearns & Co. analyst Phil Cusick says the problem
could set AT&T back by up to 100,000 gross additions, or nearly 5% of the
total for the quarter. "This is another blow to the company that has seen a
lot of negative news in the past few weeks," Cusick wrote in a recent
report.

Analysts haven't made any revisions to estimates, calling for full-year 2003
earnings per share to be 19 cents. That explains why AT&T's stock is cheap,
selling at an enterprise value of 4.7 times 2004 EBITA, or earnings before
interest taxes, depreciation and amortization.

AT&T would seem to be one of the most at-risk carriers when it comes to
losing customers once number portability takes effect. That's because of the
company's decision to run two incompatible wireless systems for the
foreseeable future--its old Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) system
along with the newer GSM system, which is slowly replacing TDMA. AT&T is
spending roughly $2 billion to $2.5 billion to develop its GSM network. It
won't begin to have the same coverage as the older TDMA system before late
2004 or early 2005. GSM coverage remains spotty outside metropolitan areas.

Compounding the problem is that people can't use their old TDMA phones on
the new network; they have to upgrade. AT&T has already begun phasing out
its TDMA model phones. However, customers who do upgrade can't get as
complete coverage with the newer GSM system unless they buy a new dual-band
phone. Those phones tend to be more costly to buy and selections are very
limited. All of this could be a big hang-up for AT&T.





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