2007 Departures: 'Cingular' dropped as AT&T absorbs company

The ever-changing world of telecommunications claimed another major wireless name in 2007. Cingular Wireless was purchased by AT&T, as part of AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth in 2006. The Cingular brand was officially wiped off the face of the earth in 2007 and replaced with the AT&T name.

The beginnings of Cingular can be traced all the way back to 1978, when AT&T created Advanced Mobile Phone Service to offer the services we know as today's modern cellular services. That company was eventually broken into seven pieces, and three of those seven came back together to form what became Cingular.

Cingular Wireless was known for referring to itself as the carrier with the "fewest dropped calls." But, coincidentally enough, all wireless companies seem to refer to themselves as the best. Verizon has called itself "America's Most Reliable Network," and Sprint Nextel says that "no one has a more powerful network."

So no more of the "raising the bar" tagline from Cingular, although AT&T did continue to use some of the taglines and images from Cingular during their transition period in 2007. The transitional ads included the Cingular logo with reference to "the new AT&T."

This post was written as part of a series on on 2007 departures. Read about more products, companies and people you won't see in 2008.

Cingular's 65 million subscribers should account for about 33% of AT&T's revenues in 2007, so it's not a small part of the company's business. AT&T is on the top of the U.S. wireless market, neck-and-neck with Verizon Wireless, and is looking for some growth in 2008.

It makes sense to bring all services under the AT&T umbrella from a marketing standpoint. It is much easier to promote one brand, rather than having the fragmentation of two or three different brands and logos. The AT&T brand is well-known enough that it makes sense to have it as the single name.

The company has even more growth potential with its iPhone services. AT&T is the exclusive provider of wireless services for Apple's iPhone, adding 1 million new subscribers in about the first three months that iPhone was sold. All did not go smoothly in the beginning, as subscribers had difficulty activating iPhones and billing issues surfaced in the first month.

Most notable was the 300-page iPhone bill, which has been immortalized through the magic of the internet.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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