Cingular PC Card enables worldwide mobile Net access

Cingular Wireless LLC said on Monday that it will soon offer customers a single PC Card that can be used to wirelessly access the Internet in the U.S. as well as around the world. Typically, operators that enable global wireless data roaming require users to have multiple PC Cards that operate in different parts of the world.

Cingular will start offering the cards and two subscription plans in March. One plan will cost $110 per month and include unlimited data use in the U.S. and 100MB of downloads in Canada and Mexico. The other plan will cost users $140 and will include unlimited use in the U.S. and 100MB of downloads in 24 countries, including Australia, China, France, Germany, the U.K., Italy and Japan. Cingular said it plans to add other locations in the future.

The card will cost $100 for customers who sign up for subscription plans.

The highest-speed network the card can connect to is High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), which so far is mainly available in the U.S., but operators in Europe and elsewhere plan to introduce such networks this year. Where HSDPA networks aren't available, customers can use Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) or General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) networks. The card is also compatible with Wi-Fi networks.

The card has a retractable antenna, which Cingular says means users won't have to remove the card when transporting their laptops.

In September, Verizon Wireless Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC started a new service that lets customers use wireless Internet in more than 50 countries, but it requires customers to use two different PC Cards. The cards do not support Wi-Fi and cost as much as $380 and $230 each.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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