Click on link for complete article.Cingular to charge $5 for older phones
Company trying to prod nearly 5 million subscribers to upgrade handsets
Updated: 5:32 p.m. PT July 31, 2006
NEW YORK - About 4.7 million Cingular Wireless subscribers with older phones will have to pay $5 extra each month as the company tries to prod them to get new handsets so it can devote its entire network to one type of signal.
The new surcharge, unique among the major U.S. carriers, will be added to bills starting in September, the company told The Associated Press on Monday.
Cingular, jointly owned by prospective merger partners AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp., reported earlier this month that roughly 92 percent of its 57.3 million customers use phones based on the globally dominant technology known as GSM, or Global System for Mobile.
The rest have handsets based on one of two older technologies. One dates back two decades to the first-generation of mobile phones, which used an "analog," or non-digital, signal to transmit calls. The second is a digital transmission technique known as TDMA, which stands for Time Division Multiple Access.
The new fee, which will generate $23.5 million a month for Cingular, adds to a confusing array of surcharges and government taxes that, regardless of the wireless company, can boost the average cellular bill by up to 50 percent from the advertised rate.
Like other U.S. cellular carriers, Cingular is required by the Federal Communications Commission to keep providing analog service until early 2008 so long as it still has customers with those phones.