T-Mobile’s 3G Hits New York City

T-Mobile USA has launched its 3G wireless network in New York City today. Other major markets will get 3G coverage later in the year. The service is currently restricted to four models, Nokia’s 3555 and 6263, and Samsung’s t819 and t639. These phones allow Web browsing and downloading at speeds twice that of non-3G T-Mobile phones. Later this year T-Mobile will launch handsets that are four times as fast as non-3G models. The future releases will utilize High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), which allows speeds of around 600 kilobits per second.

BlackBerry smart phones with HSDPA won’t be available until next year, said Neville Ray, senior vice president of engineering and operations at T-Mobile USA.

T-Mobile’s network isn’t compatible with other HSDPA phones because T-Mobile’s spectrum in the United States differs from phones sold by AT&T and overseas manufactures. T-Mobile bought its licenses in a 2006 government auction but has had to wait before getting the 3G network up and running. Much of the spectrum it bought was being used by defense and law enforcement and it has taken time for these entities to give-up the airwaves.

“It’s been a tough road, but they’ve been very cooperative in recent months,” said Ray. The speed of the rollout of 3G to other cities is now more dependent on how fast the company can get new equipment up and running, he added.