Just As I Thought

What’s in a (mobile) name?

Wrap your mind around this one: First, there was AT&T Wireless. Then, in 2001, it was spun off, and there was AT&T Wireless. In 2004, it was sold off, and now… once again, there’s A&T Wireless. Confused?

District-based InPhonic, the largest online reseller of wireless devices, said it would handle a variety of tasks such as activation, billing and customer service for AT&T, which plans to start marketing a cellular-phone service in the first half of this year. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

AT&T spun off its original wireless division, AT&T Wireless, in 2001. In October, AT&T Wireless merged with Cingular Wireless, but the company agreed to return the AT&T brand to AT&T Corp. within six months of the merger’s close.

This time around, AT&T Corp. plans to outsource most of its cellular operations. Gary Morganstern, a spokesman for the Bedminster, N.J.-based company said. InPhonic will be “just one of a number of vendors we will be using” to roll out the wireless service. AT&T previously disclosed that it would lease cellular airwaves from Sprint Corp. for resale under the AT&T brand.

Who is writing the business plan at AT&T? Sell off your wireless business so that you can create a wireless business? If at first you don’t succeed? What’s the deal?

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