After spending nearly $7 billion building its 3G wireless network and waiting for government agencies to finally clear the spectrum it needed, T-Mobile USA today flipped the 3G switch in the New York market.
Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA has been testing the network on a particular spectrum in Seattle and Bellingham for more than a year, but consumer 3G services won’t be available here until around the end of the third quarter or start of the fourth quarter, according to Neville Ray, senior vice president of engineering and operations.
By then the company will also be selling HSDPA devices that can make the most of the network. Ray said it’s now offering download speeds of around 200 to 300 Kbps in New York. When the new devices are available in the third quarter, consumers will get speeds in the 600 Kbps to 1 Mbps range, he said.
He wasn’t specific about devices, but one may be the Android-based device that T-Mobile’s hoping to release about the same time.
Although T-Mobile is a few years behind its schedule for 3G rollout in the U.S., Ray said there are a few silver linings. The cost of equipment has gone down and the quality has gone up. Consumers are also warming up to the concept of mobile browsing, pulled along by the iPhone.
“We believe we’re coming to the market at the right time … We believe that consumer willingness to adopt and move into the mobile internet space is starting to approach a sweet spot,” he said.
What about offering cards or embedded radios to provide 3G wireless access in laptop computers? Ray said the initial focus is on converged devices — phone/browser gadgets — but PC-oriented products could appear within a year.