A T&T; Back in Cellular Arena

From Reuters

American Telephone & Telegraph Co. said Wednesday that it will begin selling mobile telephones in October, returning to a business it quit four years ago.

The communications company said it will offer a full line of cellular products: a portable phone, a car phone and a so-called transmobile phone that can be moved from vehicle to vehicle.

"Our objective is to be the quality and technology leader in cellular telephones," Kenneth Bertaccini, president of AT&T; consumer products, said in a statement.

The flagship product will be a hand-held mobile phone that weighs just 12.7 ounces.

The 3730 model is about the size of a paperback book and fits into a pocket or handbag. It has a built-in user's guide, memory storage capacity for up to 200 telephone numbers and can be used for an hour and 10 minutes before its battery needs to be recharged.

AT&T; said the suggested retail price for the 3730 will be $1,099, but it will be available for $799 if bought along with a company service contract.

The car and transmobile phones will cost $599, or $299 with a service contract.

This marks the second time that AT&T; has entered the cellular phone business. It quit selling the phones in 1987 because it found profits hard to come by, although it has remained a key player in the cellular network equipment business.

"We did not forecast the growth (that occurred)," said Mike Zeaman, an AT&T; spokesman.

Zeaman said that three things happened to change AT&T;'s mind about selling cellular telephones: Prices for such equipment have come down to a level where the products appeal to a broad market, retailing has become stronger and the technology has improved.

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