AT&T Touts Fixed Wireless Plan

SAN MATEO (07/19/2000) - AT&T Wireless Group on Wednesday announced both an expansion of its fixed wireless service and a $250 million deal to have Lucent Technologies Inc. help build out a nationwide infrastructure for that service.

Specifically, AT&T Corp. debuted a lineup of new cities where its fixed wireless service - code-named "Project Angel" -- is now available. The Basking Ridge, N.J.-based company also revealed planned upgrades to its fixed wireless infrastructure and claimed it will have fixed wireless service available to 15 million homes over the next couple of years.

AT&T unveiled those details in the wake of recent announcements from competitors WorldCom Inc. and Sprint Corp. Those companies too have announced expansions, and made much of the fact that they are putting a major emphasis on fixed wireless. In fact, all three carriers are betting on fixed wireless as an alternative to DSL and broadband cable access, and each are rolling out fixed wireless service to consumers in targeted cities.

AT&T has launched its fixed wireless service in Fort Worth, Texas, and has now added Anchorage, Alaska; Houston, Los Angeles, and San Diego. It is promising residents "always-on" Internet access combined with multiline voice service.

Indeed, voice is a big differentiator between AT&T's fixed wireless plans and those of WorldCom and Sprint, which are intended for data traffic only. Also, AT&T will rely on its own patented technology dubbed OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), which will operate in a different spectrum from WorldCom and Sprint's services.

WorldCom and Sprint are developing a national footprint for MMDS (Multipoint Multichannel Distribution Services) broadband technology. MMDS entails revamping a portion of the wireless spectrum used now for educational television.

Under the fresh deal with Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent, AT&T will install Lucent's AccessPoint 1000 IP routers and Sprint Tide Networks Inc.'s IP Service Switch 5000 in its fixed wireless nodes. Lucent will also provide professional services to build out the network, assisting AT&T with site acquisition, installation, testing, and maintenance.

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