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AT&T Mobility FAQ

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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding AT&T Mobility (also known as Wireless from AT&T, formerly Cingular Wireless). Founded by John Navas.
This is the Main Page of this book. Other pages:

General Information

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What is a SIM?

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See Subscriber Identity Module


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Do GSM Phones Need to be Activated?

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No. Only the SIM needs to be activated, and a GSM phone will work as long as:
  • An active SIM is installed in the phone. (A SIM can be moved from phone to phone by the user.)
  • The phone isn't "locked" to some other carrier. (See What is locking?)
  • The phone supports the correct band(s) for the network (850 and 1900 in the case of AT&T).

What is Locking?

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See Subsidy lock (cellular).

When am I Eligible for a Phone Upgrade?

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See Upgrade Your Phone
Note: "TDMA" (Digital AMPS) customers may only upgrade by switching to GSM, which entails a new rate plan that may not be as good as the old rate plan.

Do I have to buy a phone from AT&T?

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No. The real advantages to buying a phone from AT&T are:

  1. Support from AT&T
  2. Subsidized lower price in return for contract term extension ($50 off retail for each year of commitment before other possible promotional discounts)

Otherwise, any GSM phone can be used on AT&T that:

  1. Has support for the correct bands: 850 MHz and 1900 MHz
  2. Has either:
    1. Unbranded (generic) firmware
    2. AT&T-branded (customized) firmware
  3. Is either:
    1. Locked to AT&T
    2. Unlocked

Simple rule of thumb is to either get:

  1. Current AT&T-branded GSM phone; or
  2. Unbranded unlocked GSM phone with 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands


  1. An unbranded phone will need to be configured for advanced services. See Mobile Device (e.g., Cell Phone) Configuration.
  2. See also other questions in this section.

Where can I Get Help for my AT&T Phone?

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Can I make my phone ring only for certain numbers?

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Yes, if your phone supports (a) downloadable ringtones and (b) phonebook number-specific ringtones:

  1. Install a silent ringtone.
  2. Set that as your default ringtone.
  3. Configure certain phonebook numbers to use an audible ringtone.

How can I transfer contacts from old phone to new phone?

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Is it still possible to get a high-power "bag" phone?

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Yes! Motorola M900 (also available in a car mount version)

Rate Plans

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What is my Service Agreement?

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See AT&T Service Agreement

How Do I Know How Many Minutes I Have Left?

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What are *Services?

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*Services ("star services") are free text messages about your AT&T service that you request by dialing numbers on your phone:

Check your balance: *BAL# (*225#)
Check your minutes: *MIN# (*646#)
Check your data usage (including text messages): *DATA# (*3282#)
Pay Your Bill: *PAY (*729)


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What is Rollover?

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Rollover is a promotional tool which works under the advertising slogan, "They're your minutes, keep'em". At the end of each billing cycle, all unused anytime(daytime) minutes roll over to your next billing cycle. For example, if you are on the Nation 450 plan and you use 300 of your 450 anytime minutes, then at the start of the next billing cycle you will have 450 anytime minutes, and 150 rollover minutes, totaling at 600 usable anytime minutes. Rollover is only available on plans that are $39.99 and up.

How does Rollover Expire?

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Rollover minutes expire after 12 billing periods(months); i.e., any unused rollover minutes from month 1 expire at month 13, any unused rollover minutes from month 2 expire at month 14, etc.

Do The Minutes Come Off The First Or Last Month?

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Rollover minutes are deducted from the oldest minutes first. Once you use up your current month's minutes, you begin drawing from your twelve month old minutes, then your eleven month old minutes, and so on.


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To do:

What is Prepaid Service?

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Can I Use a Regular GSM Phone on Prepaid Service?

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Yes if:


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Call Forwarding

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Caller ID

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Can I get Caller ID to show properly for each Family Plan phone?

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A common complaint is that the name of the account holder is shown to the called party for all of the phones on a Family Plan or with combined billing. Here's a report from one subscriber on getting the correct Caller ID for each phone/line:
Keep at it till you find the right guy. Many have said it can not be done, even third level managers. But a guy from Cingular Data Tech did it [for me] in about 3 minutes time.
If your account is associated with a business discount, better known as "f.a.n." (foundation account number), changing name is as simple as calling in.

Directory Assistance

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AT&T Directory Assistance is relatively expensive. Free alternatives include:


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What's the AT&T Voicemail Menu?

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AT&T has different voicemail systems in different areas that use different navigation keys. "Blue" (old AT&T) customers are being migrated to the GSM "Orange" (ATTWS) voicemail system with this Menu tree.

Can I Delete a Message Without Listening to It?

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Yes: When the message starts, press 77 -- that will delete the message that has started, and begin the next message (if any).

Why is my Voicemail Indicator Stuck On?

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The voicemail indicator on a cell phone may sometimes get stuck ON when there are no voicemail messages. To clear the problem:
  • Try leaving yourself a voicemail, and then deleting that voicemail. Exit the voicemail system by pressing star (*) rather than just hanging up. If that doesn't work ...
  • Call Customer Care (611). Be warned that this may result in having to setup your voicemail again.

How Can I Reset my Voicemail Password?

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  • Use MEdia Net.
    Data charges apply. Go to your MEdia Net Home page, then My AccountReset Voicemail Pwd.
  • Call Customer Care (611).

Can I Check my AT&T Voicemail from a Landline Phone?

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Yes: Dial your cellular number, when the voicemail greeting starts, press star (*), and then enter your voicemail password.
Note: your cell phone will ring if on.

How to adjust ring duration before incoming call goes to voicemail?

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By standard GSM Service Codes:
Divert Voice Calls, No Answer (delay nn seconds: max 30 seconds, in 5 second increments)
Set: **61*destination*11*nn#[SEND]
Cancel:    ##61*11#[SEND]
Query: *#61*11#[SEND]
Divert All Calls, No Answer (delay nn seconds: max 30 seconds, in 5 second increments)
Set: **61*destination*nn#[SEND]
Cancel:    ##61#[SEND]
Query: *#61#[SEND]
  • The "destination" is the voice mailbox number, not your mobile number! Do a Query first to get the correct destination number.
  • If the Voice codes don't work, try the All codes (which apply to data calls and fax calls in addition to voice calls).
By Using a Phone's Menus
Call diversion/forwarding settings may be accessible through a network services menu. Read the phone's manual to find out if and where this menu is located, or begin by looking in the main settings menu.

What is the cost of voicemail?

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On consumer service plans:
  • Not roaming:
    • Recording of voicemail on unanswered calls: no charge
    • Retrieval of voicemail from a landline phone: no charge
    • Retrieval of voicemail from a cellular phone: regular air time charges apply
  • Roaming: Billed at the roaming rate

Mobile Device (e.g., Cell Phone) Configuration

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How do I configure my GSM phone for AT&T?

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What's the Outgoing SMTP (E-mail) Server?

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Cingular (orange) SIM
  • cwmx.com (no footer)
  • photo.mycingular.com (adds a photo messaging footer) [may not be working]
AT&T Service (blue) SIM

How Can I Download Pictures and Ringtones to My Phone?

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With a Bluetooth phone and a Bluetooth PC, Windows XP Bluetooth can be used to "push" files to the phone over Bluetooth wireless. Make sure phone Bluetooth is on and "paired" with PC, then right click file → Send ToBluetooth device → receive and save file on phone. (Non-Microsoft Bluetooth drivers may work differently -- see the documentation.)
(click to enlarge)
Screen © Microsoft Corporation
Used with permission
(click to enlarge)
Screen © Microsoft Corporation
Used with permission
Cable (serial or USB)
With the phone connected by cable, special software on the PC can often be used to transfer files. See What Computer Software Can Be Used With My Phone?.
Like Bluetooth (above), IrDA can be used to "push" files from a PC to a phone.
Requires a phone with an email client that can save attachments and with a working email configuration. Attach a file in an appropriate format (e.g., JPEG image) to an email on a PC; send to an email address; retrieve email on the phone; and save attachment. (AT&T data charges apply.)
Use email-to-MMS (with an attachment), or a website that sends MMS messages. (AT&T messaging charges apply.)
See WAP Downloading and/or Hosting. (AT&T data charges apply.)

Network Coverage, ENS, and Signal Quality

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Where are Coverage Maps?

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AT&T Coverage Maps

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Roaming Coverage Maps

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  • GSM Roaming (includes network information and coverage for AT&T)
    • A GSM phone will only work in the frequency bands it supports—be sure to check. 850 and 1900 bands are mostly confined to the USA and Canada; most other countries use 900 and 1800 bands.
    • Roaming charges apply when using a AT&T SIM outside of AT&T Nationwide coverage.
    • See International Calling for phone use outside of AT&T Nationwide coverage.

Tower Locations

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Cell Phone Reception and Tower Search

Why does one phone get better signal than another?

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While there are differences in ability to handle weak signal conditions between different phones, such differences are usually modest absent a defect in one of the phones. Substantial performance differences in a given location are thus much more likely to be due to different network programming of the SIMs than to differences in the phones.
For example, one phone might have a SIM "homed" on the old ATTWS (blue) network and the other phone might have a SIM homed on the old Cingular (orange) network. If both blue and orange signals are present in a given location, and if (say) the blue signal is good while the orange signal is poor, then the phone homed on blue might well exhibit better performance than the phone homed on orange. This is because a GSM phone will always prefer its home network to a non-home network even if the non-home network has a much better signal -- it will only roam on the non-home network if there isn't a "usable" home network signal.
Such a difference can even happen when both phones have orange SIMs because ENS (64K) SIMs can be homed by AT&T OTA (over the air) to either the orange network or the blue network. (See Does ENS make for better coverage and/or connections?) Thus to meaningfully compare two phones in a given location, the same SIM should be used to test each phone.
Another possible cause of performance differences is band support. AT&T uses both the 850 band and the 1900 band (depending on location), so a phone with support for both 850 and 1900 bands may well perform better in a given location than a phone with support for only the 1900 band.

What's the Difference Between 800 and 850 bands?

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There is no difference between 800 and 850 bands -- they are the same frequencies between 800 and 900 Mhz. Since the term 800 had become associated with "TDMA", 850 was coined to distinguish GSM.

What Can I Do About Poor Coverage in My Area?

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  • Call Customer Care (611) and ask to be transferred to Tech Support.
  • Click on http://support.cingular.com/, enter, and then click on report network issue in the contact us section. (Even though the site is only "intended for former AT&T Wireless customers", other Cingular customers can use the site by going through a 2nd login screen.)

Is the 800/850 Band Better Than 1900?

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You may have heard that 800 or 850 band is "better" than the 1900 band because:
  • It travels farther. That's not true. What is true is that there can be a difference in range due to power:
  • Maximum power in the 800 band is 3 watts.
  • Maximum power in the 1900 band is 2 watts.
It may not be intuitively obvious, but that's only about 18% less range for 1900, or a maximum of about 20% more towers along a flat rural highway strip, or a maximum of 50% more towers in area coverage, and then only when range is limited only by maximum power, which is rarely the case in metro areas. Tower spacing is usually only near maximum in flat rural areas (and current small handsets don't come close to maximum power levels).
  • It penetrates buildings better. It's not that simple: While 1900 penetrates walls less well than 800/850, it does a better job of penetrating small openings (e.g., windows). In general the penetration difference tends to be relatively small.
For a detailed technical assessment, see CS 294-7: Radio Propagation [Randy H. Katz, CS Division, University of California, Berkeley]

How Can I Improve My Signal Quality?

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  • Change of Home Network
    A GSM mobile device (e.g., phone) is "homed" to a particular network, and will only roam on a different network when there is no "usable" network signal, even when the roaming network signal is much better than the home network signal. Until AT&T completes the integration of the old Cingular (orange) network and the old AT&T Wireless Service (blue) network (expected in mid-to-late 2006), a given mobile device will be homed on one network or the other, and will thus prefer that network over the other network even when the other network has a better signal. In such cases, and given an ENS-capable mobile device and (64K orange) SIM, it may be possible to improve signal quality by:
  • Call AT&T Customer Care (611).
  • Ask to be transferred to Technical Support because you have poor signal quality.
  • Ask Technical Support to switch your home network (orange to blue, or blue to orange).
  • ENS won't work with AT&T Wireless Service (blue) mobile devices (or SIMs).
  • Even with ENS, a mobile device still isn't able to automatically select the better network signal -- GSM roaming rules still apply.
  • AT&T started selling ENS-capable devices in late 2004.
  • It may take up to 24 hours for a home network switch to take place.
  • It may help to turn the phone off and back on.
  • While a switch in home network may improve signal quality in one area, it may degrade signal quality in a different area.
  • Better Phone
    Phones differ in how well they perform with weaker signals (as in other things), and thus a different (better) phone might help in poor signal areas. In general, more expensive phones tend to have better signal handling than less expensive phones. Of the various brands, Nokia devices are generally well-regarded, although other major brands (e.g., Sony Ericsson, Motorola) also have better devices.
    External Antenna
    The small antenna in most mobile devices compromises performance for smaller size, and significantly-to-substantially better performance is generally possible with an external antenna (connected to the mobile device with a special cable). External antenna options include:
  • Active Repeater
    Where there is a usable outdoor signal, an active repeater may provide improved indoor signal. An active repeater consists of (1) an outdoor antenna, connected by cable to (2) a two-way signal amplifier (usually located indoors), connected by cable to (3) an indoor antenna. Care must be taken to ensure that: (a) the system is properly designed for the correct technology (GSM) and bands (850 and/or 1900); (b) the indoor signal is sufficiently isolated from the outdoor signal; and (c) no interference otherwise results. The advantages over external antennas are no antenna connections needed to mobile devices and potentially greater performance; the disadvantages are complexity and cost of at least several hundred dollars. Sources include:
    Signal Boosters
    Stick-on "signal boosters" change the antenna performance of the phone in random ways depending on the model of phone and where exactly you stick it. Dozens of RF engineers at the phone manufacturer spend their careers optimizing antenna performance, so the change will generally be for the worse. Since RF optimization involves hundreds of complex tradeoffs, it is possible that a stick-on booster will improve reception in one or two cases, while degrading it in many more cases. Overall, signal boosters generally make your signal worse.


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How Can I Send Messages to Cellular Phones by Computer?

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  • Messaging Software
See Messaging Software

How Can I Send Messages to AT&T Mobility Phones by E-mail?

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Sends an SMS text message to the phone (no picture). Preferred SMS method.
Sends an SMS text message to the phone (no picture). Use a Preferred SMS method instead.
Sends a picture message to the phone, with the picture size reduced appropriately.
Sends email to Cingular email, picture delivered as sent, but can't be downloaded to the phone over WAP.
Sends an SMS text message to the phone (no picture). Preferred SMS method.
Does not work.
Sends email to Cingular email, picture delivered as sent, but can't be downloaded to the phone over WAP.

What are messages from 36245?

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36245 (which spells "email" on a phone keypad) is the number of the AT&T Mobility GSM-standard email-to-SMS gateway. When email is addressed to NUMBER@Mobile.MyCingular.com, the gateway forwards to that NUMBER as SMS message(s). The sender's email address is the first item in the message, followed by the subject (if any) in parentheses. To Reply to the sender, you may have to change the message addressing (depending on your phone). Use of the AT&T MEdia email-to-SMS gateway is preferred -- see What are messages from numbers like 1010100004?.
If the email-to-MMS gateway is used instead of the email-to-SMS gateway (by addressing email to NUMBER@mms.att.net), addressing (including replies from a phone) will be cleaner, and messages can be much longer, but MMS messages are more expensive than SMS messages.

What are messages from numbers like 1010100004?

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This is a special gateway number generated by the AT&T MEdia email-to-SMS gateway. When email is addressed to NUMBER@CingularME.com or MEdia_ID@CingularME.com, the incoming gateway forwards to that NUMBER (or the NUMBER for that MEdia_ID) as SMS message(s), and that special gateway number is used to track the email address of the sender. Reply to the sender is easy, because the phone will automatically reply to that special gateway number, which will cause the outgoing AT&T gateway to forward to the email address of the original sender. This is thus the preferred method of AT&T email-to-SMS messaging.

How Can I Send E-mail From Any AT&T Mobility Phone?

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Phone E-mail client
Your cell phone may have an e-mail client that (properly configured) can send email directly. (See What's the Outgoing SMTP (E-mail) Server?) Wireless data charges apply.
MEdia Net (WAP)
Go to your MEdia Net Home page and choose one of the following ways to compose and send email. Wireless data charges apply.
Mail & Messaging
Links to MEdia Net Mail, Yahoo! Mail, MSN Hotmail, and AOL Mail. If you don't see Mail & Messaging on your MEdia Net Home page, you can use Customize MEdia NetEdit Categories to select it for display, OR
More Categories → Mail & Messaging
SMS Text Messaging
AT&T operates an E-Mail to SMS Gateway that forwards SMS text messages to Internet e-mail. Message charges apply.
Your cell phone may be smart enough to use the Gateway automatically when you send SMS text messages to an e-mail address rather than a numeric phone number, OR
Put the email address at the start of your message, separated by a space from the message, and send to the phone number 121.

How can messages be translated?

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What are Messaging Services?

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Messaging Services provide ways to send, receive, and query (search for) information. Many such services are free, but messaging charges still apply.

  • Google
Blogger Mobile
http://www.blogger.com/mobile-start.g (post text or photos to a blog, free)
Google SMS
http://www.google.com/sms/ (free directories, directions, movies, weather, stocks, answers, prices, definitions, and more)
  • Yahoo!
http://mobile.yahoo.com/mblog (mobile blog)
Contacts Back-up
SMS Search
http://wap.oa.yahoo.com/raw?dp=page&pg=smss/smss_help (free directories, weather, stocks, definitions, horoscopes, area codes, ZIP codes, Wi-Fi hotspots, and more)

Is Cellular Spam Illegal?

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Cellular spam is prohibited by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA).
From CAN-SPAM, Unwanted Text Messages and E-Mail on Wireless Phones and Other Mobile Devices:
Under the TCPA rules, a "call" includes text messaging if the messaging is sent to a telephone number rather than to an e-mail address.
Text messages to wireless devices
  • No one may use an automatic dialing machine to call your wireless phone number - including to send a text message to that telephone number - unless you have given prior express permission for the call or the call is made for an emergency purpose, i.e., the call is necessary in a situation that affects the health and safety of consumers. There is a limited exception allowing cell phone companies to contact their own subscribers.
  • If you have registered your cell phone number on the National Do-Not-Call Registry, no one may make a telephone solicitation to that telephone number, unless you have given prior express permission for the solicitation or have an established business relationship with the caller. If you tell a company not to call again - even if it has a business relationship with you - that company is prohibited from calling you with solicitations.

What Can I Do About Cellular Spam?

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  • Marketing Messages from AT&T
Respond to the text message with the single word, "Stop." You should receive a response that says marketing messages will be discontinued within 10 days.
  • Your Carrier
    • Complain first to your carrier, and ask your carrier to contact the originating carrier. Make it clear that the spam is in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). In your complaint be as specific as possible about the spam: sender number, date and time of receipt by you, actual content, etc.
    • AT&T has a variety of filtering options available if you register and login to CingularME.com:
      (Unfortunately, the CingularME.com website has been disabled by AT&T -- see this AT&T Customer Forum thread.)
      • Limiting times when email-to-SMS messages are delivered
      • Limiting the number of SMS segments generated from a given email message
      • White and black listing
      • Blocking all SMS messages sent to you by email
      • Blocking all MMS messages sent to you by email
      • Blocking messages from the AT&T web site
      • Blocking messages sent to NUMBER@CingularME.com
      • Spam filtering with quarantine
If you receive (1) an unwanted commercial message sent to a wireless device, or (2) a telephone solicitation made to a wireless device for which the phone number was registered on the National Do-Not-Call Registry, or (3) any autodialed text message on your cell phone or wireless device, you may file a complaint with the FCC. While the FCC cannot award monetary or other damages and does not settle individual consumer complaints against spammers and telemarketers, it can issue citations or impose fines against those violating the CAN-SPAM Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the National Do-Not-Call Registry, and the FCC's related rules.
  • Legal Action - In the event of a violation of the TCPA, individuals are entitled to collect damages directly from a solicitor for $500 to $1,500 or recover actual monetary loss, whichever is higher.

Technical Information

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Push To Talk

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What is Push To Talk?

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  • Also known as:
    • PTT
    • PoC (Push to talk over Cellular)
  • For information, see:
  • The current market leader in PTT is the Nextel part of Sprint Nextel Corp.
  • To use AT&T PTT, both you and those you contact must have phones that support PTT.
  • Initial AT&T PTT phone selection is very limited.

Data Service

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Can I use my Phone as a Modem?

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Most GSM phones can be used as "dial-up" (CSD) modems, and many can also be used as GPRS (packet data) modems. For this to work, your phone must be "tethered" (connected) to your computer by:

What is the Difference Between CSD, GPRS/EGPRS(EDGE) and HSDPA?

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Makes a dedicated data connection like a conventional wired modem. Speed (on AT&T) limited to 9600 bps. Charged like voice minutes (and is not Mobile to Mobile). Must be enabled by AT&T to work (which may require a $4/month data feature), and is only available to "orange" accounts (Cingular, not AT&T Wireless) and on the "orange" network.
  • A GSM phone has no real dialup modem, just a sort of virtual modem which makes a connection to a carrier's IWU (Inter Working Unit), located in some service center. The IWU has the actual modem that can make analog data calls over the PSTN (public switched telephone network). If the carrier doesn't provide an IWU, or if your account isn't provisioned for CSD (Circuit Switched Data), then a GSM phone cannot make data and/or fax calls. If your account is provisioned for CSD, then all you need is to install the phone as a modem with Windows Dial-Up Networking.
Makes a packet data connection, sharing channel(s) with packets to/from other users, connecting and disconnecting on demand. Much faster and more efficient than CSD. Charged by the amount of data transferred, as (expensive) Pay-As-You-Go if you don't have a data package (MEdia or Data Connect).
See What is BroadbandConnect?
See also What data speeds are possible with AT&T (GSM)?

What is the difference between MEdia and Data Connect?

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Intended for use only on a cell phone. "Tethering" works, but is discouraged, and AT&T reserves the right to deny service based on usage. (See MEdia Legal Notices) Uses a WAP profile, but access to the entire Internet is available. VPN may not work. No Data Acceleration.
Data Connect
Intended for use with PDA or computer, depending on specific package. Uses an Internet profile. VPN is supported. Data Acceleration is optional.

What is Data Acceleration?

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Data Acceleration, an optional feature available only on CSD and Data Connect (not MEdia Net) service, speeds Internet access primarily by compressing images. The tradeoff is lower image quality. See Wireless Data Throughput Orange Paper (Adobe PDF format). Data Acceleration is easily controlled if you use AT&T Communication Manager. If instead configuring manually, Data Acceleration is enabled or disabled with "DA" in login Userid as follows:
Data Acceleration ON Data Acceleration OFF
(or legacy Userid
(or legacy Userid

What is Tethering?

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What is BroadbandConnect?

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How Do I Configure my Phone for Data?

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Details of data settings for manual entry into a phone are given below, but it may be easier and simpler to use OTA (over the air) configuration by SMS messaging:

See also:

Settings Summary MEdia Data Connect
Acceleration ON Acceleration OFF
Phone Number 14152441012 18472549270
Password* CINGULAR1
Data Call Type ISDN
Data Call Speed 9600
Home Page device:home or
Session Mode Permanent
Connection Security On
Gateway IP Address
Authentication Type Secure
Login Type Automatic
* Must be all UPPERCASE
Settings Summary MEdia Data Connect
Acceleration ON Acceleration OFF
Phone Number
(for tethered device)
*99#   (default profile)   or   *99***1#   (profile #1)   etc.
APN wap.cingular isp.cingular
Password* CINGULAR1
Connect Type GPRS/Packet
IP Address Obtain Automatically
DNS Server Obtain Automatically
Home Page device:home or
Session Mode Permanent
Connection Security On
Gateway IP Address (WAP 1)
Gateway IP Address (WAP 2)
Authentication Type Secure
Login Type Automatic
* Must be all UPPERCASE
MEdia Setup
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See MEdia Net Configuration.
Data Connect Setup
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See Data Connect Configuration.

What is AT&T Communication Manager?

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An AT&T software package that makes it easier to connect your computer to the Internet over AT&T Mobility. Available for free download. Although standard Dial-Up Networking is all that's actually needed, AT&T Communication Manager includes drivers for mobile devices supported by Cingular, which can make it useful when you don't otherwise have the necessary driver.

What data speeds are possible with AT&T (GSM)?

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Speed of 9.6 Kbps (9600 bps, or about 1K Bytes/sec). Available in most GSM areas, but being phased out.
With a Class 10 device and good signal, typical download speeds of about 50 Kbps (about 6K Bytes/sec). Available in all GSM areas.
With a Class 10 device and good signal, typical download speeds of about 150 Kbps (about 18.5K Bytes/sec). Latency (as measured by ping) of about 300 ms. Widely available. Backward compatible to GPRS.
Typical download speeds of 200-320 Kbps (or about 2x EGPRS). Available in 6 markets as of 4Q 2005. Most (but not all; e.g., Novatel U520) devices are backward compatible to EGPRS and GPRS.
HSDPA (BroadbandConnect)
Typical speeds are expected to be 400-700 Kbps (or about 4x EGPRS). Latency (as measured by ping) expected to be about 150 ms (or about 1/2 EGPRS). Launched in 16 markets in December 2005. Backward compatible to UMTS, EGPRS and GPRS.

Why is my GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, or HSDPA so slow?

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Poor Signal
Good signal (typically at least 3 bars) is needed for best performance.
Mobile Device Capabilities
Handsets (and PC Cards) do not all have the same data performance, which is determined in part by GPRS/EGPRS(EDGE) Multislot Class. In general, as of this writing, all reasonably current GPRS/EGRPS(EDGE)-capable devices from Ericsson and Sony Ericsson support Class 8 (4+1) and Class 10 (4+2, max of 5), whereas most Nokia devices are limited to slower Class 2 (2+1), Class 4 (3+1), and Class 6 (3+2, max 4). Motorola has both Class 4 and Class 8 devices. (The first number is the max downlink slots, and the number after the "+" is the max uplink slots.) This can translate into a substantial difference in throughput if supported by the carrier:
Class 4 & 6
50% faster on downlink than Class 2.
Class 8 & 10
100% faster on downlink than Class 2.
33% faster on downlink than Class 4 & 6.
Class 10
100% faster on uplink than Class 2, 4 & 8.
Serial Port Bottleneck
Connections between handsets and "tethered" devices (e.g., notebook computer, PDA) are typically implemented as a serial port, either real or virtual, and port speed usually defaults to 115 Kbps. (A Bluetooth stack implemented as a virtual serial port may go as fast as 921 Kbps, but will run at only 115 Kbps by default.) While 115 Kbps is generally fast enough for GPRS, it can be a bottleneck for EGPRS(EDGE) and UMTS/HSDPA. Recommended minimum port speeds:
  • GPRS: 230 Kbps
  • EGPRS(EDGE): 460 Kbps
  • UMTS/HSDPA: 920 Kbps

How To Set the Port Speed in Windows XP?

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Connections between handsets and "tethered" devices (e.g., notebook computer, PDA) are typically implemented as a serial port, either real or virtual. To set the port speed in Windows XP:
  • Open Control PanelNetwork Connections
  • Right-click on the cellular connection, and choose Properties
  • In Properties-General, select checked cellular modem, and click Configure
  • In Modem Configuration, select desired Maximum Speed. Recommended port speeds:
  • GPRS: 230000 (or higher)
  • EGPRS(EDGE): 460000 (or higher)
  • UMTS/HSDPA: 920000 (or higher)
  • Click OK to close all windows.

How Can I Send a Fax From My Cell Phone?

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Since AT&T has apparently phased out facsimile (fax) service over CSD, the most straightforward way of sending a fax from a AT&T phone is to use an E-mail to Fax Service.
Receiving faxes is much harder than sending them, since most Internet fax services e-mail incoming faxes as attachments in formats that most current cellular phones can't display. It's sometimes possible to view them on an e-mail website (e.g., Google Mail) with a WAP or Web browser (e.g., Opera Mini), but that's very painful on a small screen.

What are Some Useful Services for Mobile Devices?

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Remote Access

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Free service that allows you to access files on your home or office PC from a mobile device

Wallpaper Conversion

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Hellaphone Wallpaper Maker
Free online tool to turn images into cell phone wallpaper

WAP Downloading and/or Hosting

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WAP hosting services allow you to upload and/or download content (audio, image and/or video) from/to WAP-enabled phones. Some of these sites also provide conversion services to audio, image, and/or video formats supported by phones. This can be a good way to transfer content from your computer to your phone. Free (except for AT&T data charges, which can be substantial depending on your plan) sites include:
WAP file hosting for pictures ringtones and java games/apps easy install
Upload, manage, convert, download, files and apps.
mobcrop dot com
Upload and make wallpapers and logos; download via WAP to phone, or to your PC.
Upload images, videos, ringtones, music, wallpapers, themes and documents; download to your phone via WAP.
Free WAP hosting
Free WAP hosting
Wallpapers and photo storage.
Lets you make custom cell phone wallpapers, backgrounds and logos.
WAP hosting, pictures and games.
WAP hosting to put your files on your phone, ringtones, music, screen savers, wallpapers, themes, videos.

What Computer Software Can Be Used With My Phone?

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Upload & download files; syncing of address book and/or calendar; modify and/or backup phone configuration; dialing; etc.

General purpose
Check to see if your particular phone and type of computer (e.g., PC, Mac, Linux) are supported.
Brand specific
Special software for your brand and model of phone may be available from the manufacturer of the phone and/or from independent sources.


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  • GIMP Image editor (free, cross-platform)

Messaging Software

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  • freeSMS (free)
  • MobiSMS for Outlook (commercial)

What Are Some Useful WAP Resources?

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Enter these WAP sites URLs directly into the WAP browser in your mobile device (e.g., cell phone), or send them to your mobile device by SMS.

  • Multipurpose
AOL Portal
http://mobile.aol.com/portal/main.php (Search, AOL Mail, News, Weather, Sports, Entertainment, Yellow Pages)
Google Mobile
Personalized Google Mobile
MSN Mobile
http://mobile.msn.com/ (Hotmail, Messenger, Mobile Web, Alerts)
Mobile portal
http://www.hooqs.com/ (Music and video channels)
  • Search
http://www.google.com (Web demo at http://www.google.com/xhtml)
Y! Search
  • Directories
http://www.4info.net/ (Mobile Web, Web Search, Alerts)
Infospace Mobile
http://phone.infospace.com/phone.att/index_find.hdml (Driving directions, yellow pages, and other services)
http://wap.superpages.com (directories)
http://m.yp.com/ (Yellow Pages, Yellow Pages Reverse Look-up, White Pages, Reverse Phone Look-up, Reverse Address Look-up, Neighbor Look-up, Maps and Driving Directions)
  • Movies
  • News
BBC News
  • Shipping
  • Shopping
http://mmm.ebay.com/ (auctions)
http://wml.froogle.com/ (search for product prices)
  • Travel
http://sg2go.com/ (flight schedules)
MapQuest for Small Screens
http://wap.mapquest.com (places/directions/maps)
Sabre Mobile
http://sabremobile.com/wasapi/docs/vt.jsp (air travel)
http://www.synfonic.com/ (Directions)
Y! Directions
  • Weather
National Weather Service
Weather Underground

What Are Some Useful Downloadable Applications?

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For mobile devices with J2ME (Java Mobile Edition)

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http://www.amazegps.com/ (free GPS mapping)
Google Maps for Mobile
http://google.com/gmm Amazing!
Google Mail (Gmail) Mobile
http://gmail.com/app Excellent!
Opera Mini
http://mini.opera.com/ (full Web browser) Excellent!
An RPN scientific calculator with plotting, macros, financial, statistics, more... : http://midp-calc.sourceforge.net/Calc.html

J2ME Download Sites

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Mobile Games

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See also:

International Calling

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What is the International Calling Format?

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When called from a GSM cellular phone, an international phone number (e.g., +330142961202 [the American Consulate in Paris]) consists of:

  1. International Access Code: + (not 00 or 011 as with landline calls)
  2. Country Code (2 or 3 digits; e.g., 33 for France)
    Note: The Country Code for the USA is 1 the same as the area code prefix. Thus:
    • +18005551234 is an international format number located in the USA that can be dialed from anywhere in the world (even within the USA, without incurring any extra cost).
    • 18005551234 is a USA format number with Area Code Prefix and Area Code that can only be dialed within the USA. Note that the Area Code Prefix is not needed when calling USA format numbers with AT&T (e.g., 8005551234 works as well as 18005551234).
  3. Number (including any Area Code; e.g., 0142961202 [the American Consulate in Paris])

What Are Country Codes?

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See List of country calling codes.

How Do I Call Other Countries From the USA?

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International Calling is disabled on AT&T accounts by default (presumably to protect against inadvertant charges). To activate it, call Customer Care (611).

In Which Countries Can I Use My GSM phone?

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How Do I Use My AT&T Mobility Phone in Other Countries?

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International Roaming is disabled on AT&T accounts by default (presumably to protect against inadvertant charges). To activate it, call Customer Care (611 inside the USA; +19168434685 outside the USA).
For your AT&T Mobility GSM phone to work in countries other than the USA you will need a multi-band "world" phone:
  • GSM bands used in the USA are 850 and 1900.
  • GSM bands used outside of the USA are 900 and 1800.
The best option for use in and out of the USA is a quad-band (850/900/1800/1900) phone.
Be warned that the convenience of International Roaming comes at a price: International Roaming Calls are much more expensive than calls made on local carriers. For more than just an occasional call it's generally much less expensive to use a local prepaid SIM. To do that you need to have your phone "unlocked" -- see What is locking?
To be reached at your own AT&T Mobility cellular number when using a local prepaid SIM overseas, change your AT&T Mobility voicemail greeting to give out the phone number (including country code) of your overseas prepaid SIM, which can be used for low-cost SMS text messaging as well as for voice
When calling from outside of the USA, note that:
  • USA toll-free numbers cannot be reached from outside of the USA.
  • AT&T Customer Service cannot be dialed as 611 from outside of the USA. Instead, dial +1 916 843 4685.

International Data Roaming

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AT&T GlobalConnect offers two international wireless data usage plans, both of which include unlimited data usage on AT&T' domestic data networks (pricing as of announcement date):
  • North American plan ($110/month for 100 MB) for Canada and Mexico
  • Overseas plan ($140/month for 100 MB)

Be very careful—many travelers have experienced phantom data roaming charges totaling $3000 or more.

What's the Best Way to Call Back to the USA from Other Countries?

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Use an international callback or return-call service -- see "International calling" in Callback (telecommunications). Such services include:
Note that USA toll-free numbers cannot be called from outside of the USA


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How can I use an Apple Macintosh with AT&T Mobility devices?

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What's that Buzzing in my Speakers?

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GSM radio transmissions, particularly control signals (e.g., periodic mobile device registration, SMS message transmission), can induce audible interference (buzzing) in nearby speakers. (Hearing aids can also be affected.) The general issue of radio frequency interference (RFI) is exacerbated by the short pulsing nature of these time division multiplexed transmissions. The most straightforward solution is to separate the mobile device (e.g., cell phone) from the speakers; otherwise, shielded speakers and/or shielded speaker wiring may help. See the Ask Slashdot article How to Avoid Mobile Phone Interference w/ Speakers.

How Can a Billing or Contract Problem be Resolved?

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First do everything you can to resolve the matter with AT&T:
  • Carefully document your position. Be sure to have copies of your Service Agreement, any relevant bills, etc.
  • Be specific and be fair and reasonable in what you are asking for. Asking for more than that will tend to be counterproductive.
  • Be persistent, but always polite -- getting upset or even abusive will only be counterproductive.
  • If it's a network or coverage problem, call Customer Care (611), and ask to be transferred to Technical Support. (Standard Customer Care personnel can't really handle such problems.) Be reasonable, and give AT&T a reasonable period of time to correct any problem.
  • Call Customer Care (611), and ask to be transferred to Escalations. (Standard Customer Care personnel have very little authority.) Be persistent, calling back if necessary.
  • If that doesn't work, ask to be put in contact with the Office of the President (actually the highest level of dispute resolution). Don't start there -- it's a last resort, and you'll be taken more seriously if you've done everything you can to work it out through normal channels. Again, be persistent, calling back if necessary. If you can't get through that way, try these reported contact points:
  • AT&T Mobility Office Of The President
    5565 Glenridge Connector, Atlanta, GA 30349
    877-707-6220 (disconnected)
  • AT&T Mobility Office Of The President
    1910 Customer Care Way, Atwater, CA 95301
    866-894-2464 (disconnected)
  • AT&T Mobility Office of the President
    2221 N. University, Lubbock, TX 79415
  • 800-947-5096 (disconnected)
  • 877-734-0766 (disconnected)
  • Email resospecialist@yahoo.com
If you fail to resolve the matter with AT&T, complaints may be effective:

How does AT&T Mobility do E911 positioning?

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AT&T is doing E911 location by means of TruePosition U-TDOA, which works with any GSM mobile device. Claimed accuracy is under 50 meters. See:

What is the Internet newsgroup for AT&T Mobility?

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The Internet newsgroup originally created for Cingular Wireless, now AT&T Mobility. Articles with a good deal of useful information (along with a significant amount of noise) are posted to this newsgroup, which can also be used to post your own questions and comments. (Before posting, please be sure to check that the information you need hasn't been posted previously.) To access the newsgroup, use:
Google Groups
Allows you to browse, post, and search using Google's powerful search engine.
Newsreader on your own computer
You can use software like Outlook Express or Mozilla Thunderbird, configured to access a news server at your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or at a news provider, to access alt.cellular.cingular.
Charter of alt.cellular.cingular

This newsgroup is for discussion of topics directly related to AT&T Mobility service, including voice, data (GPRS as well as GSM), and fax. Non-commercial For Sale and Want To Buy notices for compatible products, tagged in the subject line with "FS" and "WTB" respectively (without the quote symbols), are permitted. All articles must be in plain text only, in the English language, and human-readable.

Inappropriate (banned) articles:

  • Off-topic (not directly related to AT&T Mobility service)
  • Binaries (except for appended text-encoded digital signatures)
  • Spam (including excessive cross-posting)
  • Make-money-fast or other chain or fraudulent schemes
  • Work-at-home or other scams
  • Commercial advertisements, "infomercials", or announcements
  • Auction notices (e.g., eBay)
  • Forged articles (anonymous articles are allowed)
  • Personal insults or repetitive flaming (attacks)
  • Employment (help and/or position wanted) notices


The group is unmoderated.

See also

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AT&T Mobility on the Web

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Phone Reviews on the Web

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Other Information on the Web

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