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T-Mobile 3G Coverage Reaches D.C. Area

Cell-phone users in the Washington area now have four choices for mobile-broadband service. Last week, T-Mobile USA announced that it had switched on its "3G" service here, joining AT&T Wireless, Sprint and Verizon Wireless in offering fast connectivity -- as in, downloads of 500 kbps or more -- over the air.

T-Mobile's move allowed the company to begin selling its T-Mobile G1, its promising but flawed phone running Google's Android software, in some of its D.C.-area stores on Friday. The Bellevue, Wash., subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom beat its own "late November" estimate for this service upgrade by several weeks.

T-Mobile has also recently expanded 3G coverage to Sacramento, Memphis and Tampa, although its broadband network still lags far behind those of AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. (As late as mid-September, it only covered 13 metro areas.)


A look at T-Mobile's 3G coverage around the Washington area reveals some major gaps. The company seems to have everything inside the Beltway covered, but much of the market is stuck with its slower EDGE service -- including such farther suburbs as Frederick and Prince William counties, Leesburg and Columbia, but also a large chunk of Prince George's County east of the Beltway.

T-Mobile 3G users, I'd like to hear from you now: Are you finding that the carrier's broadband coverage matches what you see on its maps? What sort of download speeds are you getting?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  November 11, 2008; 11:50 AM ET
Categories:  Telecom  
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I have been on the Tmo 3G service using the G1 since 11/8.

Locaton: Rockville, MD
Down: 757 Kb/s
Up: 125 Kb/s
Reliability: 90+% (6 connect errors to apps in Android Market in 1.5 hrs of continued use)

Posted by: momomo | November 11, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Not a T-Mobile user, but want to do a shout out to AT&T who seems to be building out their 3G coverage in DC. I live in Woodley Park and for months barely got an Edge signal. Now I'm enjoying 3G service in my condo. Nice work, guys.

Next up--MetroRail service!

Posted by: CafeBeouf | November 11, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I've been with T-Mobile for nearly 6 years now. I have family in the McLean/Great Falls area along Old Dominion Dr, and am amazed that whenever I got to visit, I still have no service there (OK - in fairness, I sometimes get 1 or 2 bars in the winter).

I just don't get it - that area is hardly the middle of nowhere. I understand the cost of installing new towers, etc..., but seriously, 6 years? Seems to me T-Mobile should spend a little less on hiring famous actresses (Catherine Zeta-Jones, for example) and instead invest in beefing up their coverage/service. Ads alone won't keep your customers, guys!

Posted by: Kiffee | November 12, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I have been on TMobile's 3G service since 10/31. Using the G1. It has been pretty consistent. I have been as far north as Gaithersburg still on 3G and as far south as woodbridge losing 3G somewhere on 95 to Woodbridge. As far as speed goes, it varies.
Using the Speedtest app from the Android Market:
440 Kb/s down
120 Kb/s up

Using speed test on
940 Kb/s down
135 Kb/s up

1.6 Mb/s down
175 Kb/s up

So I'm not sure what to go by. But it is pretty fast. I guess I'll do like Olympic Judging and drop the high and low and go with the one in the middle. The rest of the test sites I found use flash and not java, so they can't be used.

Posted by: MacD | November 12, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

And to Kiffee, TMo has added 42,000 towers the last quarter with more planned. So maybe you can get reception there now or very soon.

Posted by: MacD | November 12, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

People need to remember that telecon companies are not allowed to put a tower where ever they want or see a need. In many cases the zoning does not allow it.

Posted by: mdembski1 | November 12, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

T-Mobile’s 3G coverage is expanding all the time. T-Mobile's website ( includes a full list of the cities where 3G service is available and provides an easy way to check for 3G coverage at your address or along your commute.

Posted by: daviderikhenderson | November 12, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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