3G blah blah blah!

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C/Net says 3G, the term is making a comeback. Thanks to oodles of publicity over a service that at best can get you 200 kilobits per second, over two lousy and poorly designed phones, in four cities, folks are overlooking the fact that this was a contractual obligation for AT&T Wireless, since they took money from the Japanese service provider NTT DoCoMo. (When NTT makes investments like these, I wonder to myself, how the F**K did they become leaders in the wireless world? More of an accident than brilliance?)

I guess AT&T Wireless PR mavens decided not to get in touch with me, worried that I will bring up issues like hey guys what 3G this damn thing is faster than AT&T Wireless’ EDGE offering but slower than Verizon/EV-DO and supremely Nextel/Flarion. Or that the service is available in city centers/business areas for now even in the four cities the product is available. But since they didn’t give me a chance to test out the service, I am recapping the experiences of RBC Capital Markets analyst Jonathan Atkin who tested the service in San Francisco using the Motorola A845 handset.

  • Our tests of AT&T Wireless’ UMTS offering in San Franciso yielded as-advertised throughputs in the low 200 kbps range, i.e., faster than AT&T Wireless’ EDGE offering but slower than Verizon/EV-DO and Nextel/Flarion.
  • Latency, however, was sluggish and similar to other 2.5/3G protocols except Nextel/Flarion.
  • The handset-based streaming video was impressive and required minimal or no mid-stream buffering.
  • On-line navigation seemed sluggish, akin to a dial-up Internet experience.
  • We found coverage to be somewhat limited as we did not consistently obtain UMTS signal in many residential and business areas that provide consistent 2.5G voice and data coverage from AWE and other carriers. This is not surprising in light of the higher frequency (1900 MHz) and limited number of cell sites AWE has used for its UMTS rollout.
  • My conclusion, this crapola is not worth the time or the money.

    More from Engadget, AT&T Unlimited data plan actually pretty limited

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    Well, as you said, they were contractually obligated to launch it. Even if the execs think it’s a bunch of crapola, they can’t do anything about it. Reminds me of KPN Mobile’s launch of iMode in the Netherlands. KPN missed its targets by a wide margin. Not too popular I guess.

    By the way, I wrote on Muniwireless.com about KPN Mobile’s way too expensive UMTS service, also recently launched. Although I am a happy customer of their plain-vanilla voice service, I won’t be getting any of their data bundles any time soon.

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