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The HP Compaq nc6400 features worldwide UMTS, HSDPA: Cingular’s card allows the device to work on US 3G frequencies and others worldwide. Some PC Cards are quint-band; this one, tri-band. The laptop will run about $1600 and ship in late December. Cingular’s DataConnect Global plan for $110 or $140 per month includes a certain amount of cell data access and reduced metered pricing in many countries outside the US, while including “unlimited” domestic US access.
T-Mobile will use gear from Nokia and Ericsson for its U.S. rollout of true 3G cell: T-Mobile’s American air said it will spend about $2.7b over two to three years to upgrade its network to 3G using the new spectrum it acquired at auction this fall.
T-Mobile said today that they would use their new spectrum licenses to build a 3G network: The company spent $4.2b to acquire about 23 MHz of nationwide spectrum in the 1700 MHz and 2100 MHz bands. They will deploy what’s being called UMTS across the US starting later this year; they have equipment deployed already, waiting to be turned on, apparently.
UMTS is a generic term for 3G GSM-evolved networks, but is also often used to refer to the first, slow flavor, somewhere between EDGE/1xRTT speeds and EVDO. HSDPA, which is what T-Mobile will be largely deploying (although details are a little scanty), operates around EVDO Rev. 0 speeds at present. Near-term versions of HSDPA should match EVDO Rev. A. GigaOm writes that the company is discussing the network as HSDPA-ready rather than as running HSDPA.
The frequencies that T-Mobile’s UMTS service will work on don’t match up worldwide, requiring new equipment. Europeans do offer UMTS over 2100 MHz, but not in the same configuration that T-Mobile will deploy.
T-Mobile will rev up the service in limited markets this year, with the full deployment taking through 2008, apparently. Handsets and services won’t be launched until mid-2007. The company also said that UMA (unlicensed mobile access), which allows seamless roaming between Wi-Fi and cell networks while making voice calls, will be in trials this year.
eWeek is saying that T-Mobile will announce its plans for a UMTS network on Oct. 6: The report says that T-Mobile’s recent successful cash blowout on spectrum in the FCC’s advanced wireless auction will lead to an 18-month rollout of UMTS service using 1700 and 2100 MHz, which are not used elsewhere for UMTS. Which means that existing UMTS devices will not work on T-Mobile’s network; it will need to have custom equipment made (not a big deal these days), and hope for multi-band cards that will work worldwide, including on its network.
UMTS describes both the scope of 3G network types in Europe, as well as a particular lower-speed technology implementation as rolled out worldwide. HSDPA, UMTS’s successor, is comparable in its current version to EVDO Rev. 0 (about 50 to 150 Kbps upstream, and 400 to 700 Kbps downstream, in typical performance). UMTS runs perhaps 50 to 100 Kpbs upstream and no more than 400 Kbps downstream.
The cell operator releases USB to serve new those without PC Card slots: Vodafone is addressing the needs of desktop users, laptops with ExpressCard, and Apple MacBook Pro owners. Vodafone is specifically offering support for Mac users, which is almost always lacking. Vodafone started rolling out 3G in the UK in June. This is an HSDPA modem, so it’s not an entree into the U.S. market where Verizon Wireless, 45 percent owned by Vodafone, uses the incompatible EVDO standard for 3G. The USB modem will ship in the fall.
In Ireland, you can use the 8707, a model that operates on Vodafone’s UMTS 3G network: The new model will also work as a cell data modem for laptops.
Cingular becomes first US carrier to offer worldwide card, plan: The insanely named Option GlobeTrotter GT Max LaptopConnect card handles 850, 900, 1800, 1900, and 2100 megahertz (MHz) spectrum bands, covering GSM, GPRS, UMTS, and HSDPA worldwide. The card will be $100 with a two-year domestic or one-year GlobalConnect commitment. The card also includes Wi-Fi.
The service is priced by countries included in a particular plan. A North American plan includes the US, Canada, and Mexico for $110 per month; for $140 per month you get two dozen countries including North America and Australia, China, France, Germany, England, Japan, and others. These two plans include unlimited data in the US and 100 MB of data transfer in the selected other countries.
Data above the 100 MB is $5 per MB in GlobalConnect countries and $19.50 per MB in about 80 other countries. These overages may appear quite expensive in some ways, but having a defined and consistent rate has its benefits, and should allow control.
Other carriers with worldwide plans require two separate PC Cards. The antenna on this card retracts, allowing it to remain in the laptop while in storage or travel.
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.
Competitors filed papers stating that Qualcomm is engaged in exclusionary practices and high patent prices: The company owns patents that cover both its CDMA2000 standard for 1xRTT and EVDO now being deployed widely in the U.S., and for W-CDMA, which includes UMTS and HSDPA standards that are rolling out worldwide, but faster in Europe and Asia than elsewhere.
Broadcom, LM Ericsson Telephone, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic Mobile, and Texas Instruments claim that the prices for patents for W-CDMA are the same as for CDMA2000 despite what they characterize as Qualcomm’s smaller contribution of technology to W-CDMA. Broadcom has a similar suit in New Jersey against Qualcomm.
Qualcomm responded that the charges are meritless and factually inaccurate.
Somebody left the door open over at Cingular, showing UMTS deployment: A customer-service portal has been left open, discovered by the folks at HowardForums, showing Cingular’s plans to announce UMTS service Nov. 1, 2005. UMTS is a catchall term for 3G cellular data, and the HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) flavor that’s faster than the first-generation plain UMTS and CDMA-based EVDO is considered UMTS.
The open site (so far) shows 18 markets that will launch Nov. 1. The maps for these markets show the Nov. 1 launch plans and also the area planned for expansion by 2007. In the Seattle-Tacoma market, a pretty enormous area is covered by the first phase; the state capitol and surrounding areas are slated for phase 2. (I haven’t posted the maps as it’s likely there will be a take-down request from Cingular. The HowardForums pages have the maps, for now.) [link via Engadget]
Our fine colleague Nancy Gohring got ahold of this story and Cingular commented on the Web site: no comment! But they said they’re on track to deploy in 15 to 20 markets this year. Which sounds an awful lot like a comment. Nancy’s analysis shows that some markets may get plain old UMTS (200 to 300 Kbps) and others HSDPA (400 to 700 Kbps).
Verizon and Vodafone produce worldwide data roaming at fixed rates: Vodafone owns a minority of Verizon Wireless, and VZW and Vodafone use incompatible data standards. Thus under this $129 per month global roaming package for voice subscribers, a customer gets two cards: an EVDO card for the US and a GSM (UMTS?) card for the rest of the world that Vodafone covers.
The monthly fee covers unlimited North American usage, 100 MB per month in Tier 1 countries (most of Europe), and three cents a kilobyte ($30 per MB!) in Australia, Brazil, Russia, and China. The article mistakenly says that Verizon charges $60 per month for unlimited US EVDO use: that rate is only available to voice subscribers who commit to a one-year service plan. Otherwise, it’s $80 per month.
Sony’s Vaio T350 includes an EDGE modem for CIngular’s network: The $2,199 and up laptop is configured to work only with Cingular’s EDGE service. Unlimited service is $80 per month; $50 per month buys you 50 MB of data transfer. Given that Verizon is charging $80 per month for unlimited data at a rate that’s at least five times faster, this seems a bit rich even though Cingular already has a national EDGE network and Verizon must built its slower 1xRTT up to EVDO in most of the country.
This AP piece says that CIngular will roll out UMTS this year and next, but other reports have said Cingular will skip UMTS in favor of HSDPA, even though it means waiting, to ensure higher data speeds in the same limited spectrum.
Vodafone Spain will use Novatel Wireless’s UMTS 3G PC Cards: The Merlin U630 is a quad-band PC Card which supports GMS and GPRS in 900, 1800, and 1900 MHz bands worldwide, and UMTS in 2100 MHz in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. UMTS hasn’t been deployed beyond a test in the U.S. by AT&T Wireless; Cingular purchased the company and plans to skip UMTS in favor of HSDPA and its higher speeds.