T-Mobile Finally Introduces 3G Service

T-Mobile lights up New York as rumors swirl about its parent company's interest in Sprint Nextel.

Well behind the curve and with few handsets to support it, T-Mobile rolled out its 3G wireless network May 5 in New York. T-Mobile said it plans to expand the service to 20 to 25 U.S. markets by the end of 2008 in addition to introducing new phones to take advantage of the high-speed network.

While rivals AT&T, Verizon and Sprint Nextel have already introduced third-generation wireless services, T-Mobile, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, has been slowed by efforts to clear the airwaves for spectrum T-Mobile bought in 2006 for $4.2 billion. The rollout comes as rumors swirl that Deutsche Telekom may be interesting in purchasing struggling carrier Sprint.

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But the Wall Street Journal reported late May 5 that while Sprint Nextel is considering spinning off its Nextel unit, the likely buyer could be Morgan O'Brien, a co-founder of Nextel, who wants the spectrum to create a national wireless network for public safety.

T-Mobile's new network will use HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access), a type of 3G already in use by AT&T. T-Mobile said its technology will initially boost Web speeds for customers by about four times. The nation's fourth-largest wireless carrier currently has only four phones-the Nokia 6263, Nokia 3555, Samsung T639, and Samsung T819-that will run on the new network.

The phones are designed to automatically connect to the best available network, be it 3G or GSM/GPRS/EDGE (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution). After the company introduces HSDPA phones later in 2008, T-Mobile said, the speeds will double to approximately 600K bps.

To read about Apple's plans for a 3G phone in 2008, click here.

"The launch of our 3G network comes at a time when 3G phones and services are more affordable, capable and appealing to our consumer marketplace than ever before," Cole Brodman, chief development officer at T-Mobile USA, said in a statement. "We benefit not only from the economic scale of 3G, but also from the extensive commercial experience of 3G in our European markets."

Since purchasing the spectrum at the 2006 Advanced Wireless Services auction by the Federal Communications Commission, T-Mobile has struggled to clear the spectrum, which was occupied by the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice.

T-Mobile USA has 28.7 million subscribers.