- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T; Corp. has reached an agreement with one of its biggest rivals, Sprint Corp., to offer cell-phone service over Sprint’s wireless network, the companies announced yesterday.

The five-year deal will allow AT&T; to re-enter the wireless business and offer another service to its 30 million customers.

The nation’s biggest long-distance telephone company got out of the wireless business when it spun off AT&T; Wireless Services Inc. as a separate company in 2001.

AT&T; will resume offering wireless services after Cingular Wireless closes its $41 billion deal to buy AT&T; Wireless; the deal is expected to close this fall.

The Cingular purchase freed AT&T; to use the AT&T; Wireless name. That may be a marketing challenge; AT&T; Wireless led the industry in consumer complaints last year, according to Consumers Union. Sprint was No. 2.

AT&T;’s re-entry into the wireless business is likely to push rates lower.

The company, which is already testing wireless services in select U.S. markets, said it hopes for a start later this year.

“AT&T; has proved it is capable of rolling out bundles of new and complex services quickly and cost effectively, with top-notch customers service, and we are excited to have this important capability that will help us better serve customers,” said AT&T; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David W. Dorman.

Mr. Dorman said AT&T; plans to add the wireless service to its AT&T; OneRate local and long-distance plans and its CallVantage Voice over Internet Protocol service.

AT&T;’s stock rose 11 cents to close at $16.73, while Sprint’s shares climbed 47 cents, or 2.8 percent, to close at $17.58 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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