With Cingular, Two Wireless Providers Merge

Aiming at the no. 2 slot in the market, two wireless carriers -- SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. -- officially joined forces on Thursday to become Cingular Wireless.

Just days after the Federal Communications Commission blessed the joint venture, which will serve 19 million customers in 38 states, the two Baby Bells came out with the new name and strategy.

Atlanta-based Cingular will be second only to Verizon Communications Inc, another rebranded player.

Verizon and Cingular will knock AT&T Corp. squarely out of its once top perch in the burgeoning wireless market, which is quickly charging toward data applications.

"This is more proof that today's leaders have no guarantee that they will be tomorrow's leaders. AT&T was once the top dog in wireless, and now they will be battling it out with Sprint for No. 3," said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecommunications analyst in Atlanta.

Cingular Wireless expects to pull in about $12 billion in annual revenues.

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