T-Mobile didn't waste much time after the close of the AWS spectrum auction, in which it was the leading bidder, to announce its 3G plans. It said today that work has already begun on its 3G HSDPA network, and it will launch in mid-2007, and will be complete by 2009. It was pretty clear that the auction was really just a formality for T-Mobile, and that it would do whatever it took to secure the spectrum it needed for 3G services. There's been a lot of talk about how "behind" T-Mobile is in terms of 3G, but if it can launch with significant coverage by the middle of next year (which is by no means assured), it will have closed a significant gap on Cingular, which was earlier this week forced to refute reports that its 3G rollout was running well behind schedule. Cingular says it will offer service in "most major markets" by the end of the year, and the top 100 by the end of 2007. While having the service up and running is one thing, getting people to use it is another -- Cingular hasn't offered more than a few 3G devices, and hasn't made any sort of marketing push or rolled out new services to entice users. You'd expect Cingular to pick up the pace, given T-Mobile's news today, but the two share a common problem: sourcing handsets for their 3G spectrum, which differs from that being used in the rest of the world. This is an area where the scale of T-Mobile's international corporate brethren, and their 90 million or so combined customers, could give it some help. Keep in mind, too, that T-Mobile's got the 3G buildout experience of its UK, German and other European units from which to draw, so expect it to hit the ground running.
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