T-Mobile Launches 3G Service - In NYC Only
About four and a half years after the first of its competitors began to offer wireless broadband, T-Mobile is starting to catch up. Yesterday, the company announced the start of its "3G" service in New York City.
T-Mobile's service will debut with a technology called UMTS, with speeds only about a third or a quarter of entry-level DSL--"a range of 200 kilobits per second (kbps) to 300 kbps," wrote spokesman David Henderson in an e-mail.
The carrier only offers four compatible handsets, none BlackBerry, Sidekick or Windows Mobile smartphones: the Nokia 3555 and Nokia 6263, each free after rebate; the Samsung t639, $49.99 after rebate, and the Samsung t819, $79.99 after rebate.
At the start, data rates will be the same as its slower EDGE service and therefore somewhat indecipherable, since T-Mobile charges widely varying rates--$5.99, $19.99, $39.99 and so on--depending on whether you use a regular phone or different types of smartphone. (Only the wireless-phone industry can come up with so many different ways to charge for the same service of unlimited data access.)
T-Mobile will begin selling phones compatible with a faster flavor of 3G called HSDPA later this year. Henderson said those should yield "an average data rate of 600 kbps with a peak of 1 Mbps." He also suggested that prices could change at that point, writing that "T-Mobile will continue to evaluate pricing for HSDPA services later this year."
But for several months to come, you'll have to get on the Jersey Turnpike, Amtrak, the shuttle or a bus to try out this service. Although competing carriers AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless have offered mobile-broadband access in the Washington area for over two years (with Verizon's debuting back in late 2003; see my review from early 2004), T-Mobile won't begin to offer this service outside of the NYC market until the third quarter of this year, Henderson said.
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