SBC and BellSouth Wireless Is Now 'Cingular'

Cingular Wireless is the new name for the joint venture of the two wireless divisions of San Antonio, Texas-based SBC Communications Inc. and Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp., company officials announced Thursday.

Cingular Wireless CEO Stephen Carter told employees in Atlanta over a satellite link that the new name "shows the importance of the individual customer, as well as the unity of this joint venture."

Cingular serves 19 million customers in 38 states and provides service in 42 of the top 50 markets, according to Cingular and analysts. The company said it expects $12 billion in annual revenue.

Plans for the merger were announced in April, and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced its approval Sept. 29, following the clearance of the European Union on May 26.

The name change follows similar moves by competitors, including Bell Atlantic Corp., which merged with GTE Corp. and became New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. earlier this year.

"Cingular is a catchy name," said Jeffrey Kagan, a telecommunications and wireless analyst in Atlanta.

"This is an almost magical time of new brands in telecom," Kagan added. But more important than the name, he said, is that Cingular will be No. 2 in wireless voice and data behind Verizon. For the past few years, AT&T Corp. and Sprint Corp. were in a battle for the top two spots in wireless market share, but they are now third and fourth behind Verizon and Cingular, he noted.

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