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T-Mobile 3G Is Imminent

T-Mobile US Inc. could announce the nationwide rollout of high-speed 3G services as early as tomorrow, now that it has acquired the spectrum to make such deployments feasible. (See The Auctions Endeth.)

Ovum Ltd. analyst Roger Entner reckons he has the skinny on the operator's plans, although T-Mobile isn't saying anything yet. "From what I can gather they're doing UMTS, that's what makes most sense," says Entner. "That's what I'd say they'll announce. T-Mobile didn't respond to calls for comment.

The carrier spent $4.2 billion on the spectrum necessary for the rollout of GSM-derived UMTS services. (See T-Mobile Bids $4.2B.) "They got it way cheap on the spectrum," comments Entner. He anticipates that the company would need to spend between $5 billion and $10 billion for a nationwide rollout.

The upgrade is a requirement for the fourth-largest mobile operator in the U.S. to stay in the game with rivals, Cingular Wireless , Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and Verizon Wireless , which have all announced their own plans for new high-speed 3G networks and -- in Sprint's case -- beyond. (See Sprint Goes WiMax.)

T-Mobile currently runs a GSM-based network with EDGE and GPRS upgrades, which, in New York City for example, means that the average user might see download speeds of a few hundred kilobits per second at best. If, as Entner expects, the carrier implements the HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) upgrade on top of UMTS, then users should see peak speeds of up to 2 Mbit/s.

This won't be the only benefit for the operator, Entner says, other perks include far greater and cheaper voice capacity than GSM. UMTS may also pave the way for potential high-speed wireless Internet access from the home.

What's not exactly clear yet is how the new network will work with T-Mobile's other much anticipated launch -- fixed/mobile convergence services using its extensive WiFi hotspot network. (See BT & T-Mobile: No Convergence.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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