Monday, August 25, 2008

T-Mobile 3G - Compatibility?

As I mentioned recently here, T-mobile USA is FINALLY rolling out 3G in 27 cities by Oct 1 of this year, just shy of that 2009 prediction.

But before you start fantasizing about unlocking that iPhone 3G, Nokia E71 or Blackberry Bold, I forgot to mention its not compatible with other 3G networks. That's right, you heard me.

Yep, since T-Mobile had to buy that unused 1700mhz spectrum from the FCC to make 3G happen, it will be working on frequencies completely different from AT&T, which in turn are completely different from GSM elsewhere in the world.
Anyone who's ever bought unlocked phones is already familiar with the difference between Europe's 3G UMTS vs. United States versions of the phones.

But now, you'll also need to consider special T-Mobile USA edition phones if you want 3G. There are 3 primary versions of GSM 3G: UMTS 3G for the rest of the world, and 850/1900 AT&T or 1700Mhz T-Mobile USA. This is going to make handset purchases very difficult, and further complicated one of the greatest benefits of GSM: compatible portability.

I'm not the biggest fan of CDMA, but at least their network technology is far less confusing!