Dear T-Mobile, The Point Of 3G Is For Data Speeds

from the you-can't-be-serious dept

T-Mobile was the one national US mobile operator who really didn’t have much of a strategy when it came to upgrading its network. While Sprint, Verizon and AT&T all were working on 3G options, T-Mobile kind of sat around twiddling its thumbs. Then it finally realized that it was way behind and made an effort to catch up. Years after everyone else got around to launching stuff (and as they’re all now setting plans for their 4G options), T-Mobile is finally launching its 3G wireless service. But in a move that makes absolutely no sense, it’s only for voice — not for data. If it’s only for voice… there’s no reason to move to 3G. The very purpose of the 3G mobile network was to enable higher bandwidth for data. This is like building an entire highway next to a perfectly good bike trail… and then saying the highway is only for bicycles. Why bother? Update: Well, phew. Turns out the original story was simply not true. T-Mobile launched with voice and data…

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Comments on “Dear T-Mobile, The Point Of 3G Is For Data Speeds”

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Devang (profile) says:

using t-mobile edge

I use google maps with edge and it isn’t unusable if a little slow, and I’ve been with t-mobile since forever, but this is going to be unacceptable if it doesn’t change by the time their android phones come out:

Anybody know of another carrier that can add another line for $10? It’s always been $20 with verizon, sprint and at&turd.

Christopher Smith says:

Re: Why?

And since it’s not intuitively obvious to non-network engineers, here’s why:

On a digital voice network, phone calls are carried as data just like everything else. However, in order to fit as many calls on the network as possible, the sound is compressed, and at high levels of compression it can get pretty bad.

Many systems use adaptive compression that can give better quality when the network is not congested and then degrade if it gets busy; if your network is often highly loaded (as I’d expect in many major cities), moving to a faster network will generally improve voice quality.

(Also, there have been reports that, despite T-Mobile’s announcement, the 3G speeds are being seen on data. I am not a T-Mobile customer, so I don’t know.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Huh? So 3G offers great increases voice capacity.

T-Mobile has always seen themselves as a “Voice” company first and data company second. I mean, if you buy a phone you usually do so to make calls first. (last I checked anyways) and it doesn’t allow you to make voice calls, what good is it when it comes to that 2 or 3% who want to use data exclusively.

Its hillarious that the billboard across from TMO HQ is a Verizon ad. LOL! Verizon = +1. TMO = par

I SEARCH says:


Wow, whoever post this is late and showed up for the wrong party because they got directions from some douche bag who wasn’t invited. T-Mobile launched 3G voice AND data. You should do your own investigation and not rely on others who didn’t even do their own. I’m sorry, TECHDIRT is one of my many website stops that I do regularly but have noticed you have fallen in to the same hole as boygenius for some odd reason of copying engadget. Please, news isn’t copy and paste, do some research and verify your sources. Don’t listen to website that is speculating on a document from a network that has already told their employees to tell their customers that 3G enabled phones that they have are not 3G enabled. This is a tactic so that they won’t have to deal with droves of phone nerds (myself included) from bombarding them about information they are not ready to release. It was funny for an hour for some websites to copy engadget with the whole magenta thing, but after a while it seems like a creepy man crush that builds to everyone trying to dress like the cool kid in school. I bet this is how leg warmers and the macarena got started. I’m sorry again for releasing this schpeal on you but integrity in news reporting needs to be regulated and innovation must be strived for.

I mean first of all how do GUYS from a proported technology blog not know that you can’t separate data and voice on a UMTS network. This is what they get when they try to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. You have “REPORTERS” who don’t know the first thing about wireless technology.

info from engadgetmobile is 100% wrong
got 3G service here, both voice and internet
the editor should check this thread

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Spectral Efficiency

Mike, on this one you neglect one of the most important benefits of upgrading from GSM to W-CDMA (2G to 3G). The benefit is spectral efficiency, or the ability to cram more calls into a finite amount of spectrum. The US CDMA carriers have always had a significant advantage in this over GSM, which used TDMA (sorry for the acronym overkill).

The best example I can bring up is Hutchison “3” in the UK. Remember in 2003 they launched 3G services to MUCH fanfare, promising awesome data services, video conferencing, etc? Remember how they launched this “awesome”, premium-branded data network and nobody signed up?

After Hutch realized that they were not being effective in marketing 3 as a premium brand, they got a little desperate. They had a network, and no users. They needed to attract customers. They took advantage of the greater spectral efficiency of 3G, and started offering calls cheaper than other UK cellular carriers:

Because of their fundamentally better 3G spectral efficiency, this actually worked:

By 2005, the advantage of lower costs had set Hutch 3 on stable financial footing.

But they sacrificed the premium brand image in order to survive as a “low cost” provider. This is essentially where they remain today.

Flash forward to today in the US. T-Mobile’s brand in the US is already that of a “low cost” provider, so it’s a natural fit to leverage 3G to keep costs of voice calls down. I think you are wrong to chastise them for focusing on this element of 3G. For them, it is a good fit.

3G provides dual benefits: lower costs per minute, and better data services. What’s wrong with TMo focusing on the former, and taking advantage of the latter in due time.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m sorry, Mike, were you going to retract this story or publish an update, or maybe even let people know that the initial “information” that the engadget story was based on was from a “leaked” memo.

Oh, nevermind. That would only be something a credible journalist would do.

Good to see that you haven’t changed a bit.

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