Cingular Launches 3G
from the zoom-zoom dept
Cingular formally launched its 3G network, saying it had turned on the network in 15 markets -- about a month later and in 3 fewer markets than earlier rumors had indicated. For now, it's data cards for laptops only on the HSDPA network, which offers comparable speeds to Sprint and Verizon's EV-DO networks of 400-700 Kbps with bursts up to 1 Mbps. No prizes for guessing how much it costs: $60 unlimited to start, requiring a voice plan to get the data card on the cheap. It would seem that the $80 rule -- the unwritten rule that all new wireless data services in the US must initially cost $80 per month for unlimited use -- has now become the $60 (with voice) rule, with Cingular following essentially similar pricing from Verizon and Sprint (though it may be possible to get cheaper service tethering with a phone instead of using a data card). So competition has increased in wireless broadband, but really in numbers only. There's little differentiation beyond coverage at this point, although that will make its way back to parity as Cingular brings more markets online. One final point: the CNet reporter is a little confused about what exactly HSDPA is, describing it as "a combination of GSM and EDGE", which is completely wrong. HSDPA is an enhancement to the third-generation UMTS standard that allows higher downlink speeds. While Cingular's HSDPA data cards are compatible with its previous GSM/GPRS and EDGE network, that's simply by virtue of a multi-mode device, not any combination of its older network with the new one.