BT, AT&T form global mobile phone alliance

British Telecommunications PLC and AT&T Corp yesterday extended their existing relationship to form a global alliance they say will facilitate seamless mobile communications services worldwide.

The two carriers are calling their partnership Advance, the companies said in a statement released yesterday. The new alliance will build on the current AT&T/BT US$10 billion ($15.4 billion) global venture, announced in July last year directed at multinational corporate customers. That global venture, if approved by regulators, will see the two companies combine their transborder assets such as international networks and traffic.

The Advance alliance will develop mobile services for global travellers working for multinational companies, the carriers said. This alliance will offer these companies global account management services. A trial of this services offering will begin this year.

AT&T and BT have agreed to present a unified front on the issue of third-generation (3G) mobile telecomms and mobile internet standards, yesterday's statement said. The pair agree that TDMA (time division multiple access) and GSM (global systems for mobile communications) communities should converge around one set of standards.

The two companies hope to increase their roaming revenues by directing as much traffic as possible onto their networks and develop simpler roaming tariff packages to stimulate usage, they said.

The carriers intend to pool their resources thus gaining economies of scale on purchasing and investment in mobile networks. They gave the example of their recent joint investments in Japan and Canada totalling more than $3 billion.

The two companies are also embarking on a work-exchange program whereby AT&T Wireless employees and BT employees carry out assignments together throughout the alliance.

AT&T and BT today have a customer base of 41 million.

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