AT&T Steps up Cingular Rebranding Ahead of iPhone

Top U.S. phone company AT&T Inc. said it will step up its rebranding campaign at Cingular wireless stores, seeking to raise AT&T's profile ahead of the launch of Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

The company will replace the Cingular name with AT&T in the interiors of its 1,800 shops on Monday, ahead of the iPhone launch in late June.

AT&T acquired BellSouth Corp. last year, a move that consolidated its ownership of the two companies' wireless joint venture, Cingular, which is being rebranded as AT&T.

"The iPhone is one of the most anticipated handsets ever in the wireless industry, and we want to make sure that every drop of equity from the iPhone accrues to the AT&T brand," AT&T spokesman Michael Coe said.

"We want to be as far along as possible with our rebranding in advance of the launch of the iPhone."

AT&T, however, said it will keep the exterior signs of most of the stores unchanged for now, showing it would take time to dismantle the well-recognized wireless brand.

The rebranding is expected to take a year or so, although AT&T has not set a deadline. The company has said it will keep an eye on consumer surveys to assess the public's recognition of AT&T as a wireless provider.

"Our branding campaign is performing above projected levels, we are ahead of schedule, and customer response has been very positive," Chief Operating Officer Randall Stephenson said in a statement.

AT&T said it was launching a new advertising campaign with the tagline: "Your world is wireless. AT&T is wireless."

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.

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