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T-Mobile: 95 Cities Will Have 3G for Android

T-Mobile US Inc. promised today that it will have 3G services available in "95 major cities" in the U.S. in time for the launch of the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) G1 Android phone this coming Wednesday.

This week, T-Mobile's High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) 3G coverage was launched in the Sacramento, Calif., area bringing the number of major cities currently served with 3G coverage to 92. Next week, the operator says that communities in and around Memphis, Tenn., and Tampa, Fla., will go commercial. This will be followed by a Washington, D.C., 3G service in November.

T-Mobile has been a 3G laggard compared to its big three rivals, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon Wireless , and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). (See T-Mobile USA: 3G, Going on 4G?) T-Mobile launched its first 3G service in the New York area in May. This was followed by Las Vegas, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston through the summer. (See T-Mobile Adds More 3G.)

T-Mobile won Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum suitable for 3G services in September 2006, paying $4.2 billion to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the bandwidth. Part of the delay can be put down to the fact that T-Mobile had to wait for the U.S. military to vacate some of the AWS spectrum before it could get on the air.

The Bellvue, Wash.-based operator now has a particular impetus to have 3G available and potential users aware of it now, however, since it plans to launch the high-profile HTC G1 3G handset next Wednesday. The operator hasn't said exactly how much it will spend marketing the G1 but made it clear at the launch event that the smartphone will have the largest campaign T-Mobile has ever launched behind the device. It has said, however, that users on the 3G network will see download speeds of up to 1 Mbit/s on their new smartphones (See Slideshow: Switching On Android.)

Indeed, so keen is T-Mobile to have potential customers aware that 3G is available in their city that it has changed the way that it talks about the rollout. Previously, the operator had said that it would have service available in up to 25 major markets by the end of the year; now it says "3G coverage will amount to more than 120 major cities across the top population centers nationwide" late this year.

This is because "markets" relate to major cities and the surrounding area, which may include smaller -- but still significant -- towns and cities. For instance, T-Mobile lists L.A. as a "3G market," but the service is also available in Irvine, Long Beach, Pasadena, and Anaheim. So a spokesperson for the operator says that for the sake of "clarity" T-Mobile will now list major cities rather than wider market areas.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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