Phone: 866-246-4852

Web: www.cingular.com

Type: Digital (GSM)

SERVICE PLANS:

"Region"

$39.99: 600 anytime minutes, 5,000 night/weekend minutes, then 45 cents/minute.

$49.99: 800 anytime minutes, unlimited night/weekend minutes, then 40 cents/minute.

$59.99: 950 anytime minutes, unlimited night/weekend minutes, then 35 cents/minute.

No long-distance charges. No roaming charges in most of East Coast from Virginia north to New York and Massachusetts; elsewhere, add 79 cents/minute. $7 moves start of night/weekend hours to 7 p.m. from 9 p.m.

"Nation"

$29.99: 250 anytime minutes, 1,000 night/weekend minutes, then 45 cents/minute.

$39.99: 450 anytime minutes, 5,000 night/weekend minutes, then 45 cents/minute.

$39.99: 1,000 anytime minutes, then 45 cents/minute.

$49.99: 600 anytime minutes, unlimited night/weekend minutes, then 40 cents/minute.

$59.99: 850 anytime minutes, unlimited night/weekend minutes, then 35 cents/minute.

No long-distance or roaming charges. Unused anytime minutes roll over to next month on $39.99-and-up plans. All plans (except $29.99 and $39.99/1,000-minute plans) include unlimited calls to other Cingular phones. $7 moves start of night/weekend hours to 7 p.m. from 9.

"FamilyTalk"

$19.99 adds one line to any Region plan, plus $79.99 plan not listed above(1,350 anytime minutes, unlimited night/weekend minutes, then 30 cents/minute) and $39.99/450-anytime-minutes and $49.99 Nation plans listed above. $9.99 adds one line to any $59.99 and up Nation plan, plus $79.99 plan not listed above (1,250 anytime minutes, unlimited night/weekend minutes, then 30 cents/minute). $7 moves start of night/weekend hours to 7 p.m. from 9 p.m.

Messaging/Web/etc.

Text messages cost 10 cents each, $2.99 for 100 messages or $9.99 for 750. Basic Web access ("MEdia Basic") costs $7.99 (including 250 text messages, 50 multimedia messages and 1 megabyte of data use; additional use adds 1 cent/kilobyte). High-speed access ("MEdia Net"), up to 40 or 135 kbps depending on phone model, costs $2.99 for 500 kb of use or $9.99 for 2 MB; additional use adds 1 cent/kb.

Fine print

Contract not required, but only two-year plans are offered at Cingular's Web site; can change plans without penalty. 15-day trial. "Night/weekend" means 9 p.m.-7 a.m. Mon.-Fri. and 9 p.m. Fri.-7 a.m. Mon. Prepaid "KIC" service available, starting at $10 for 30 days and $15 for 90 days (10 cents/minute).

Smartphones offered

BlackBerry 7290, Nokia N-Gage QD, PalmOne Treo 600

Real-world cost estimates (See below for explanation)

1: Light use (30 minutes): $29.99

2: Moderate use (three hours): $29.99

3: Heavy use (eight hours): $39.99

4: Land-line replacement (20 hours): $59.99

5: Chatty couple (six hours, two phones): $59.98

REVIEWER'S NOTES:

Cingular's purchase of AT&T should be good for both customer bases. In areas where AT&T worked great (such as the food court in the Wheaton Mall), the Cingular phone could barely eke out a signal; in other spots, such as Clarksburg, Cingular provided a better connection. Combining the two networks would make them difficult to beat -- but first Cingular has to make its way through a mammoth merger.

-- John Breeden II