T-Mobile USA has just launched 3G service in New York City, as rumored. But if you want to rush out to purchase a new handset -- stop!
The service available now is UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System), a slower version of 3G. Downstream data rates will average 200 to 300 kbit/s. Without a contract, the prices for T-Mobile handsets range from $150 to $220; with a one-year contract, $50 to $130; two-year contracts range from $30 to $80.
Later this year, T-Mobile will offer phones and modems employing a faster 3G, HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access). Downstream speeds will average 600 kbit/s to 1 Mbit/s.
T-Mobile sales people tell me the carrier won’t offer special discounts or rebates if you purchase a UMTS handset and want to upgrade to HSDPA.
T-Mobile is known for excellent customer service. I hope its sales people inform potential customers about the UMTS/HSDPA situation. If not, I predict T-Mobile will see a lot of angry UMTS customers by year’s end.
If you’ll be happy with UMTS or willing to purchase another phone or modem when HSDPA debuts, then forget my warning. If you want fast GSM 3G now, check out AT&T Mobility, which launched HSDPA almost two years ago. Verizon Wireless and Sprint offer even faster 3G via CDMA.
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