T-Mobile USA today announced specifics of their plans to launch UMTS, which will be available next year. The service will run on standard UMTS technology, however, it will operate on the 1700 MHz band. Cingular and AT&T Wireless were using 850 MHz and 1900 MHz to deploy UMTS, making all existing “world” UMTS phones incompatible with T-Mobile’s network.
This creates yet another bad for phones to have to cover, adding to the costs of any phone that is truly global. It also puts handset makers at a tough decision; support 850/1900/2100, support 850/1700/1900/2100, or, become jaded to U.S. bands and only support 1900/2100.
Each of these positions will hurt consumers globally. Either handsets will cost more money to be able to tap into T-Mobile’s network, or, will not be able to access the network at all.
T-Mobile however sees cheaper handsets for consumers. The phones T-Mobile will carry will be single-band (meaning, they will have standard GSM with only support for 1700 MHz UMTS). They have already begun deployment of network hardware, as well as tower hardware.
As to launch times, T-Mobile expects to launch portions of the network in the first half of 2007 to aircards, with consumer handsets launching closer to the middle of the year.