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The VP of engineering operations at T-Mobile USA says 3G in 2006, maybe 2007: They’re testing in some markets, but they need to win some auctions next year for spectrum, it sounds like. The company won’t say which markets they have test setups in nor which flavor of 3G they’ll opt for. T-Mobile currently offers unlimited GPRS nationwide as a flat rate add-on to its voice subscribers. [link via TechDirt]
Alltel launches EVDO in Richmond, Va.: The company is now number five after the really big top four (Cingular, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile). They’ve added a competitive EVDO offering in Richmond (and soon elsewhere), even as Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless provide 3G there now and Cingular will add HSDPA (incorrectly called EDGE) in the future. Although they overlap in this city, Alltel’s cellular coverage area is practically the negative image of where big cities are in the U.S.
Alltel launched EVDO elsewhere in the country earlier this year. They have a somewhat hard to find page that shows their Axcess Broadband service’s regional areas: Akron, Cleveland, Lansing, Little Rock, Norfolk (and Richmond), Oklahoma City, Phoenix, and Tampa.
This category is getting quite large: The cell-to-Wi-Fi gateway category is growing. Seattle-based Junxion was the earliest to push boxes into the marketplace, and their device uses a generic PC Card slot that can support a wide range of cards. The NetGear box using IPWireless technology has built-in UMTS, offered domestically just by Cingular, which is also rolling out the faster HSDPA. Internationally, UMTS is in wider use. The box supports all UMTS frequencies worldwide. No price was noted, and it’s intended for sale to operators who will configure and resell to end users.
The 3G service launches in 16 metro areas: They’re claiming 400 to 700 Kbps on average, which is the same speed that Verizon Wireless estimates for its EVDO service. The service cost is roughly comparable to VZW and Sprint PCS: $100 for a PC Card with two-year commitment, unlimited usage of specific services for $60 to $80 per month. The $60/month rate applies to voice customers who commit to two years of HSDPA data; otherwise, it’s $80/month.