updated 02:55 pm EDT, Fri May 2, 2008
T-Mobile 3G Formal Next Wk
T-Mobile USA will officially debut its 3G (third-generation) cellular network next week and will include both voice and data, the company says. Contrary to premature reports that the service would only launch with voice switched to the new network, the debut will see 3G appear for both for higher-quality calls as well as for data.
The confirmation follows just a day after customers in New York City began noticing early 3G activation on their phones that proved data would be part of the faster network's unveiling. Several handsets already support the infrastructure with 1,700MHz UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) already built-in.
Subscription fees aren't expected to change with the switchover, which is regarded as essential to driving competition in US cellular service. AT&T has so far been the only GSM network provider in the US to offer 3G service, with the only other access provided by CDMA carriers (such as Sprint and Verizon), most of whose phones have no support for GSM.
However, the implementation will require that cellphone manufacturers developing 3G with T-Mobile in mind add support for 1,700MHz over either the HSDPA (High Speed Download Packet Access) or UMTS data standards versus the 850MHz used by AT&T's network, preventing users from swapping standard unlocked phones from one network to the other while keeping 3G service. No phone makers have yet announced hybrid phones capable of 3G on both American networks.