T-Mobile Adds More 3G

T-Mobile US Inc. is slowly expanding its 3G cellular footprint, having added four more markets this month.

"I can share that 3G services are currently available in New York City, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Austin and Houston," a spokesperson for the operator tells Unstrung. "T-Mobile USA is planning to launch additional 3G markets throughout the year and to end the year with 3G coverage in 20 to 25 core markets."

The Bellvue, Wash.-based operator, which lags behind AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon Wireless , and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) in deploying faster third generation wireless services, initially switched on 3G in May, but only in New York City. (See T-Mobile 3G Next Week.)

Since then, T-Mobile has been taking its sweet time. In September 2006, it won Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum suitable for 3G, paying $4.2 billion in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spectrum auction. The company awarded vendor contracts for the nationwide network at the end of November 2006, saying that it planned to spend three years and more than $2 million on the project. (See T-Mobile USA: 3G, Going on 4G?)

What's taken so long? One issue was that T-Mobile had to wait for the U.S. military to vacate some of the AWS spectrum. But the operator has also dialed back on its claims: T-Mobile was originally saying that it would support 80 3G markets by the end of this year, not the 20 or 25 it now promises.

Nonetheless, 3G support in major metropolitan areas is becoming a bigger issue for T-Mobile. The firm needs to support fancy new handsets soon, such as the Android-based "Dream" smartphone, and analysts suggest that the operator could be seeing its lack of faster data services reflected in its latest earnings report. (See T-Mobile's 3G Craving and Android Arriving November 10?) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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