AT&T Corp. and GTE Corp. signed an interconnection agreement that will let them use each other's wireless network.
AT&T is the largest long-distance and wireless provider in the U.S., while GTE is the nation's biggest local phone company. Their combined networks will serve customers in 34 cellular markets across the U.S. starting in October, AT&T said.
Wireless networks allow customers to link up to the Internet and corporate computer networks using wireless modems. For instance, traveling professionals can check e-mail back at the office and access the global computer network without using phone lines.
"We are a major step closer to a nationwide wireless data service," said Kendra VanderMeulen, vice president of AT&T Wireless.
AT&T Wireless, based in Kirkland, Washington, has almost 6-million cellular customers. GTE has more than 3-million customers.
GTE, the largest U.S. provider of local telephone service, has signed similar interconnection agreements with Ameritech Corp., Bell Atlantic Nynex Mobile and two other wireless service providers. AT&T also has an interconnection agreement with Ameritech.