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May 01, 2008

T-Mobile USA 3G Goes Live

by Matthew

Despite initial rumors T-Mobile USA would be launching 3G as a voice only service today there are many reports of 3G both voice and data. T-Mobile launched 3G as UTMS with only a handful of handsets, none of those being a smart phone. As expected there is a lot of buzz about T-Mobile for the long await and delayed 3G launch.There is much speculation T-Mobile will offer HSPDA in the future despite previous claims of launching straight to HSDPA.

T-Mobile will be the first US operator to deploy the fully HSDPA capable Nokia Flexi WCDMA Base Station. The small and modular design of the Nokia Flexi WCDMA Base Station enables easy deployment of WCDMA 3G in multiple spectrum bands with significantly lower base station site expenditures and also gives an easy upgrade path to HSDPA for the future. Mobilecomms-technology.com

TmoNews reported yesterday the following cities will launch (in order) before the end of the year: Austin, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Denver, Detroit, Orlando, Kansas City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New England, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle, Washington DC, San Francisco, Birmingham, Memphis, Tampa, Phoenix.

Basic math would suggest T-Mobile is aiming for roughly 3 markets a month. Given T-Mobile's history with launches it is anyone's guess on the actual schedule. In the past once new services are launched in one or two markets, nationwide or major market roll out hasn't been far behind.

I have to admit last night and this morning after hearing the rumor 3G would be voice only this long time (since 2001) and loyal T-Mobile customer started seriously considering AT&T. Despite the fact even with a corporate discount it would cost me more per month for the same services not to mention the usual startup fees. T-Mobile isn't out of the fire just yet with me. If a AWS (Advance Wireless Services) capable S60 phone isn't released shortly I fear I won't be able to hold out much longer. Call me a gluten for punishment but I firmly believe T-Mobile's 3G (1700MHz up-link/2100MHz down-link) will be superior among all the national carriers in the near future. DT spend over $4 billion on the spectrum with no less than 30MHz in every market, that's 30MHz on each band not combined. In some cases 30MHz, on a single 1900MHz or 850MHz band is more than other carriers have for voice service alone; adding high speed data to the mix and you are seriously pushing the limits. If you have experienced times of 3G downtime, especially during peak hours, you can bet it was a capacity issue, where voice has priority over data. Furthermore AWS more closely resembles the European & Asian standard for 3G (1900MHz up-link/2100MHz down-link while using 900MHz/1800MHz for GSM).

Say what you will about T-Mobile being on a different frequency, even Verizon and AT&T are going with 700MHz for LTE adding yet another frequency to the soup. In the end, I believe all of this will be to everyone's best interest. While T-Mobile doesn't have many handsets today, more will be coming. Remember when AT&T launched 3G, the first or second time, there were few handsets and no data cards available. Moreover T-Mobile has proved themselves time and time again in the Customer Service department. In an industry notorious for earning the poorest of the poor in customer satisfaction surveys, T-Mobile has shown it doesn't have to be that way, winning awards year in and year out.


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Ms. Jen

If it is true that it is a 2100 MHz downlink then rather than getting an N95 NAM, maybe it is time to get a T-Mobile sim chip for my beloved N95-1. ;o)

Thanks for the update on this.


@Ms.Jen Not so fast. That N95-1 may have 2100Mhz down but it uses 1900mhz where as AWS uses 1700MHz up. Sorry but you're out of luck here. I wish it were that easy but if it makes you feel any better you can blame the many goverments of the world on this one. Europe and NA each had their hand in the frequency mess we have today.

Ms. Jen

Frankly, I think all the governments and their broadcasting regulators should be spanked (& not the kind that they may like) for the mess that all the various frequencies are in. Bah.

Tony G

So does this mean I shouldn't purchase the N95? I am a Tmo customer for the last 5 yrs now and would really like to add the N95 to my existing arsenal. All Tmo customers have been waiting for this moment and not being able to purchase the mean machine will definitely be ashame not to have of the Tmo network.


@Tony G Yes that's right the N95 would not have 3G on T-Mobile USA. Perhasp Nokia will release one but I would expect them to skip it and instead launch an AWS N96 or whatever comes next. Not saying they won't, just that I would expect them to skip the current flagship for the next one coming around the corner.

Freddie Lopez

Seriously, did you just said you are considering to move to AT&T after hearing that misinformation from TMonews? You should no know better than that. There is no such thing as a “voice only,” 3G network for WCDMA services. WCDMA/UMTS/HSDPA is simultaneous voice AND data. I’m starting to lose my faith in some of these blog sites since it seems the authors are posting more and more hearsays as opposed to facts. I don't mean you or this site. I'm referring to Engadget Mobile and BGR, and anyone else who reported this based on a not-definite internal document.. and then played up the angle they wanted to play up to get web traffic. Maybe just a bit disappointed since I followed and enjoyed your posts at symbianverse.com blog (what happen to that?) and showed your expertise to the blog. If that is even true, T-Mobile obviously told its staff to say that 3G is voice-only in order to avoid people asking for (non-existing) 3G data cards. Anyone with some fundamental knowledge should know that UMTS = voice + data.

Anyway, what I can tell you is that 3g has been live in New York since March. I tethered most of the time and noticed increased speed on my web browsing. I live in Park Avenue, New York.

I know this guy, Joe Sims, who works as one of the executives there at T-Mobile and told me that T-Mobile will launch its 3g network on May 8th next week.


@Freddie Lopez actually no data isn't a given on any service. A carrier can block data on any frequency if they so choose. Given T-Mobile's long delay the idea sounded plausible despite my better judgement and though I didn't want to believe it. I do agree sensationalism in the media is ridiculous and it can just as easily extend to the internet as it has existed in print, radio and TV for years.

Even if T-Mobile 3G were launched nationwide right this minute, it would change little for me and my N95-3. Assuming I had the funds to buy it again with AWS, which I don't, it wouldn't be available for months upon months. I better stop there less I digress into a NA Nokia rant.


Noooooooooo........... I was hoping when I bought my N95(-1) that it would work with T-Mobile's 3G network since it is 2100mhz. Even without 3G it's still a great phone though.
This makes me wonder though... don't we need USIM cards to use UMTS?

Freddie Lopez

Thanks for the feedback. The 3g phones they offer do not look promising. I hope more manufacturers will offer support on T-Mobile's 3g spectrum. Right now, I don't think I'll be switching to a new plan anytime soon.

I hope they would offer data cards soon and offer a better wireless internet plan than their counterparts offer.

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