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AT&T, Costco Ink Retail Kiosk Deal

Wireless Advocates will supply the kiosks that will carry phone models from popular manufacturers, including Samsung, Nokia, and Motorola.

AT&T on Monday began offering its wireless products and services at 370 Costco Wholesale stores in the United States.

The No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier partnered with Wireless Advocates, a third-party provider of mobile phones and services at Costco stores, to offer services that are expected to reach more than 35 million of the store's cardholders.

AT&T chose Costco because it ranks as one of the top retailers in mobile phone activations, an AT&T spokeswoman said in an e-mail. Costco also is the largest membership warehouse club chain in the world. Combined efforts between the two leading companies are expected to reach many shoppers this holiday season.

Wireless Advocates and AT&T are offering the carrier's products and services at kiosks located inside Costco stores. The kiosks carry phone models from popular manufacturers, including Samsung, Nokia, and Motorola. In some select locations, Costco will be selling the Samsung BlackJack, according to AT&T.

Costco members will get special benefits, such as a waived activation fee when they sign up for an AT&T wireless plan, as well as an accessory kit that comes with a vehicle power adapter, ear bud, and wireless case, the spokeswoman said.

In addition to Costco, AT&T currently offers wireless services in 10,000 retail locations like Best Buy, RadioShack, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, and Target.

Mainstream retailers increasingly are becoming popular channels where consumers can purchase mobile phones and related services, instead of ordering them online or going to wireless carrier-owned stores. They also offer many options for prepaid wireless services for consumers that don't want to be tied down with annual contracts.

Virgin Mobile USA, for example, is a Mobile Network Virtual Operator that's focused on providing plans without annual contracts ranging from prepaid to pay-as-you-go services. Earlier this month, Virgin Mobile began selling its first cell phone with streaming music capability, called the "Wild Card" by Kyocera Wireless, at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target, and Wal-Mart.

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