Want T-Mobile's Google Phone? Not in D.C.
T-Mobile's much anticipated G1 phone running on Google's Android software went on sale today across the nation -- except in the Washington region.
Here, you can walk into a T-Mobile retail store and play with a G1, the latest souped-up smart phone to hit the market. But you can't take one home. That's because Washington is one of the several markets around the country that don't have T-Mobile's 3G high-speed data network up and running yet.
So if they were to sell you the phone, it would work on its regular network but downloads of some Internet applications would ... run ...
As of now, a Washington area resident can buy the G1 phone over the Web. And 3G will be deployed in the region on T-Mobile's network by late November. The company expects its 3G network will be deployed in 120 cities by the end of the year.
But if you bought one outside the region and try it here today, it'll take a little longer to download applications like Google Maps and Street Views, YouTube clips and other location based services such as local price comparison shopping.
So what's the big deal about 3G? It's faster and therefore provides a better experience for users, particularly with data-intensive Internet applications like video. AT&T announced today that 2.4 million subscribers bought new iPhones that run on its 3G network in the last quarter.
The reason why T-Mobile's 3G network has been delayed can be blamed on an unlikely source: the Defense Department along with other federal government agencies.
The federal agencies occupied the valuable spectrum T-Mobile bought for more than $4 billion two years ago to build out its 3G network. Since T-Mobile bought the spectrum, the Bellevue, Wash.-based company has had to force local governments and the federal government off the spectrum, market by market.
"This is first time we had to move federal government systems from spectrum," said Kathleen Ham, vice president of Federal regulatory affairs for T-Mobile. "They were not slow to move, but were surprised how fast we wanted to move."
October 22, 2008; 4:57 PM ET
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