Updated:  Today is the big announcement in New York by T-Mobile, which will show off its spiffy new G1 phone powered by Google.  The G1 is the first smartphone to run the Google Android operating system and is expected to work seamlessly with Google services like […]

Updated:  Today is the big announcement in New York by T-Mobile, which will show off its spiffy new G1 phone powered by Google.  The G1 is the first smartphone to run the Google Android operating system and is expected to work seamlessly with Google services like Gmail and Google Maps.  The G1 will support the relatively new T-Mobile 3G data network, and since not many are familiar with T-Mobile’s 3G, it’s a good time to take a look at four things you should know in order to get the most out of 3G.

Data plans.  T-Mobile is currently offering two 3G data plans.  The unlimited data plan is $29.99 monthly when added to a voice plan and allows full access to T-Mobile’s 3G network where available.  The unlimited data plan + hotspot will set you back $49.99 per month but adds access to T-Mobile’s vast Wi-Fi hotspots to the 3G to keep you covered. T-Mobile is expected to offer a special data plan to go along with the G1 and this plan may have special pricing.  UPDATE: in the press conference today T-Mobile outlined the two plans available for use with the G1 phone.  There will be a $25 unlimited data plan with 400 texts and a $35 plan with unlimited data and texts.

Tethering.  Mobile professionals working on the go with a laptop derive great benefit if they can “tether” their phone to the laptop for connectivity.  This is accomplished either through a wireless Bluetooth or a USB cable connection from the 3G-enabled phone to the laptop.  Tethering turns the 3G phone into a modem that accesses the high-speed data network so the worker’s laptop gains access just as if it was connected directly to the network.  Many U.S. carriers charge extra for tethering their phones to laptops but it is allowed currently on all T-Mobile data plans without an extra charge.  UPDATE:  T-Mobile stated during the G1 press conference today that tethering with the G1 is not possible.  It is not clear if they are simply forbidding it or if they are blocking the ability on the phone/ network.

Phones.  The T-Mobile 3G network may look like those in use by other global carriers, but it’s not.  T-Mobile uses a radio frequency band (1700 MHz) for 3G connections that is unique in the world.  The carrier claims it allows faster data speeds but the reality is it means that only phones specifically designed for the T-Mobile network will work at full speed.  You can’t just use any phone, which limits the consumer’s choices for handsets.  According to the T-Mobile web site there are only five phones that support 3G offered by T-Mobile, not counting the newly announced G1, which is not available yet.  These phones are the Samsung t639, t819, Nokia 3555, 6263, and the Sony Ericsson TM506.

3G coverage. T-Mobile has only begun rolling out their 3G network for the past few months and it is not yet available outside some of the larger cities in the U.S.  In the past week, the carrier has lit up their local 3G coverage maps that depict the coverage on a zoomable map based on the consumer’s zip code or address.  This makes it possible to determine what your coverage will be prior to committing to a 3G data contract with the carrier.

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  1. I’m not sure where you’re getting that Internet pricing from that link.

    Instead go to “Services” from the nav bar and then “Internet & Email.” Look under the section for T-Mobile phones, and you’ll see that Total Internet is still $19.99/month.

    Link here: http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/addons/services/information.aspx?oscid=16110380-8E6A-42BF-B6DD-4806D8032CD0&PAsset=InternetEmail&tp=Svc_Tab_Smartphones

  2. Android is finally here. Now, let’s put it in the publics hands so we can get a real review on what people think of the phone and if it was worth the hype! A price of $179 is a little less than was reported.


  3. John A Arkansawyer Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    To the best of my knowledge, I cannot run tethered via my Sidekick.

    If I’m wrong, I’d love to know it, because I’m about to replace my phone.

  4. Warten auf das Google Phone … « strassenblog Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    [...] kam mir fast ein klein wenig kurz. Die vier wichtigsten Dinge rund um das Thema T-Mobile 3G sind hier [...]

  5. “To the best of my knowledge, I cannot run tethered via my Sidekick.”
    The Sidekick is a different animal. I’m currently tethered via my BlackBerry Curve 8320. T-Mobile is friendly about tethering.

  6. Did not get an answer to the question:

    Does Android have software for Tethering ? you answered about Tmobile allowing on their plans. But I could not see a way for Teethering in Androind Developers kit

    1. use PDAnet. get it through market place

  7. I’m going to try to confirm shortly if my iMate Ultimate 6150 works on T-Mobile’s 3G. One of the network settings is WCDMA, which happens to work over the 1700Mhz spectrum allocation. It’s possible that it will work with T-Mobile USA’s network.

    I bought it in Dubai in January of 2008 specifically to see if it would work in the States when T-Mobile goes 3G. If so, it’s a FANTASTIC phone. I currently use it “tethered” via Bluetooth to my notebook, but I also use a WiFiRouter application that gives me tethered WiFi access to AT&T’s 3G for any device nearby. It works fantastically, has an amazing VGA screen that womps the iPhone when I run Opera 9.5 Mobile, and hasn’t needed a reboot in literally months.

    Sadly, it runs WM6, but who knows if it will adapt to other OSes in the future. Even more sadly, iMate will likely be bankrupt soon, and I thought this phone specifically would save them in the States. Ugh.

  8. No tethering?? bummer. For an unlimited data plan, what difference does it make if the G1 is a modem? …makes you wonder if this hides T-Mobiles 3G capacity limitations. Anyway T mobile is leaving quite a few customers on the table.

  9. RE T-Mobile’s unique 3G frequency: Wouldn’t this hobble the “world phones” they sell when buyers take them overseas? And why would chip, base station and phone manufacturers create unique products for a 3rd-place US carrier? As an amnesic eunuch might have say, “What am I missing?”

    1. I have tmoble for now, but will have to switch to att when my contract is up, because of the stupidity of having a “special 3g frequency” no one else has. I have a nokia e71 “unlocked” phone that will work on any GSM network (quad band) with my 3g operational @ 850/1900 MHz. It is the most incredible phone I have ever seen, for my needs and wants. Since tmoble can’t seem to get it togather and get on board with the rest of the world, I have to sadly go to att, that I don’t like because of past customer service.

      1. Rick, I’m on the same boat as you, I also own an E71-2 – and I love this phone (especially Nokia Sports Tracker), but I’m moving on go the N900, and hopign it will be a good phone also.

  10. Google Phone on the GigaOM Network – GigaOM Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    [...] PT Comments (0) In addition to our live coverage of the Google phone launch and our round-up of four things you need to know about T-Mobile 3G, NewTeeVee has info on plans for the phone’s video capabilities while Earth2Tech looks at the [...]

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