AT&T's Lurie to push wireless beyond mobile phones

NEW YORK Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:52am EDT

Tyler Burton glances at a poster advertising Apple's iPhone 3G while he waits for information on the phone at an AT&T store at the University Mall in Orem, Utah, July 10, 2008. REUTERS/George Frey

Tyler Burton glances at a poster advertising Apple's iPhone 3G while he waits for information on the phone at an AT&T store at the University Mall in Orem, Utah, July 10, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/George Frey

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Glenn Lurie, the executive who led AT&T Inc's negotiations with Apple Inc for its exclusive U.S. iPhone deal, will now work on introducing wireless links in devices other than mobile phones.

AT&T, the biggest U.S. mobile service, said Lurie would head a new organization in the company to help promote the inclusion of cellular links in everything from computers and digital cameras to car-navigation and entertainment systems.

The initiative follows moves earlier this year by No. 2 U.S. mobile service Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, to allow any third-party device to work on its network.

U.S. service providers, which have long kept tight control over which handsets their customers use, have been promising to become more open amid pressure from search giant Google Inc and as they look for ways to lessen their dependence on voice services with data services like mobile Web access.

Sprint Nextel, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service, has also said it expects to connect a wide array of consumer electronics devices on a high-speed wireless network it plans to build via a proposed venture with Clearwire Corp.

But AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint all run networks using incompatible technologies, which require electronics makers to chose one standard or shoulder the cost of designing separate devices to support each one.

AT&T noted that its network runs on GSM, the most widely used wireless technology around the world. Verizon's network is based on CDMA, a standard that is popular in the United States, while the Clearwire network will be based on an emerging technology known as WiMax.

Besides heading the emerging devices unit, Lurie will continue to run the company's national distribution business.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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