Mar. 21st, 2011

Most conversations I've seen online about the AT&T/T-Mobile merger seem to have some confusion about 3G frequencies, so here's a quick summary.

T-Mobile uses 1700AWS for 3G service.

AT&T use 850 and 1900 for 3G service.

Much of the rest of the world (I'm unsure about Canada) uses 2100 as a default, with many networks also running on either 850 or 900. The lower frequencies provide better coverage, but weren't available when the original 3G rollouts happened.

A typical non-US 3G handset will do 900/2100, or maybe 900/1900/2100. If you're really lucky you get 850/900/1900/2100. I don't think I've ever seen a handset outside the US that has 1700 support.

(The exception here is Telstra NextG handsets in Australia, which are typically 850/2100 or 850/1900/2100. Telstra re-used 850, which they had previously used for an older now-decommissioned network. Many of them include 1900 because if you're making a handset and doing 850, you might as well do 1900 too and sell to AT&T as well as Telstra.)

I have no idea how many T-Mobile handsets have 3G on anything but 1700. Looking at the GSM Arena database, the only devices I see with 1700 and 850 or 1900 are a couple of Nokia models, and my understanding is that Nokia is not exactly big in the US.

So chances are that what you'll see post-merger is the removal of 1700 handsets from sale. As contracts end, customers will be offered new "upgraded" handsets running on 850/1900 (i.e., the AT&T network). When they've got rid of most of the 1700 handsets, they'll announce a firm closure date, offer more incentives for customers to move, then turn the lights out.

It won't be as simple as just sending out new SIMs for existing handsets.

If you're a current T-Mobile customer and you're really lucky AT&T might offer to lock in your current (probably cheaper) plan on a new handset for some period of time. But you'll be dealing with AT&T customer service and the AT&T network, which is going to suck mightily if you're in NYC or San Francisco but will probably be okay elsewhere.


Abort, Rephrase, Ignore?

October 2011

2 345678

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags