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Spotlight: New Hybrid Service Nears Maiden Voyage

By | March 22, 2004

      In a first for the U.S. wireless industry, AT&T Wireless [AWE] and Maritime Telecommunications Network (MTN) plan to give cruise-ship passengers the convenience of using their wireless phones while at sea. The companies are working with several cruise lines to introduce the service later this year.

      Redmond, Wash.-based AT&T Wireless and Miramar, Fla.-based MTN formed a joint venture called Wireless Maritime Services to develop and launch an innovative service that would use a combination of satellite and wireless technology to provide the cruise-line industry and its passengers with on-board communications. The joint venture would combine MTN’s expertise in providing satellite services to the cruise industry with the capabilities of AT&T Wireless to deliver wireless services to people on the road. Financial terms were not disclosed.

      The joint venture with AT&T Wireless will deliver “truly global mobile service” to ships in international waters, said David Kagan, MTN’s CEO. “Using this service, staying in touch will be as convenient for cruise-ship passengers as pressing the send key on their own mobile phones.”

      Jordan Roderick, president of AT&T Wireless International, said, “We will make it possible for cruise passengers to place and receive calls, to use short message service and to access the Internet using their own wireless phones, just as they do at home. We offer our customers the largest global voice and data coverage area of any North American carrier, and through this agreement we hope to extend service to the high seas.”

      –Paul Dykewicz

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