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Cingular to be AT&T -- not!

Peter Rojas
cingular logo

Well, you can say goodbye to Cingular. SBC, which closed its merger with AT&T last week, decided that after spending untold millions promoting the Cingular brand for its joint venture with BellSouth, that they're going to drop the name and start selling wireless service under the AT&T brand name. (At least for the most part, they say there will be a few places where they still use the Cingular name).

att new logoAnyway, we can get why they're doing it — SBC, which was one of the Baby Bells spun off from AT&T during the big break up of 1984, is officially changing its name to AT&T, and they want to unify all the branding — but man, are things getting confusing. As you'll recall, last year Cingular snapped up AT&T Wireless, which had been spun off from AT&T in 2001 for the princely sum of $41 billion. They then spent the better part of the past year spending tons of time and money trying to eliminate the AT&T Wireless brand and integrate its network, subscribers, and services into Cingular. The integration is pretty much done (or close to it), but now they're going to go through all that again, except in reverse, which means that some of you out there will go from being AT&T Wireless subcribers, to Cingular subscribers, only to become AT&T Wireless subscribers all over again.

P.S. - See for more background check out The Engadget Guide to AT&T Wireless/Cingular/SBC/AT&T Merger Mania.

Update: Cingular fans, we have good news — as reported by RCR, apparently Cingular spokesman Clay Owen said they "are continuing with the strong Cingular brand that we have spent the past five years building and promoting." In other words, it looks like USA Today's report was predicated on some miscommunicated information — SBC is changing its name to AT&T, yes, and they plan on resurrecting AT&T branded wireless service, yes, but apparently as something more akin to an MVNO leasing Cingular's network capacity. So if we're to believe RCR on this, then Cingular stays, AT&T wireless is back as an MVNO in "select" markets, and all is well. We'll keep you posted… [Thanks, Vic.]

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