T-Mobile customers can use four existing handsets to access its new 3G network.
Kent GermanFormer senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Remember last October when T-Mobile launched the Samsung SGH-T639? Though the carrier lacked a 3G network at the time, the SGH-T639 debuted with support for 3G UMTS services. When we asked T-Mobile what was up, a representative responded by saying that the SGH-T639 "is positioned to be among the first devices to take advantage of a future UMTS network." No, we weren't satisfied with that answer, either.
But starting Monday, that time has come. Less than an hour ago T-Mobile announced it was launching its long-anticipated 3G network in New York City. More markets are expected later this year, but for now, Big Apple residents can use the SGH-T639 and three other existing T-Mobile handsets for high-speed data. The other models are the Nokia 6263, the Samsung SGH-T819, and the Nokia 3555.
Subscribers using one of those handsets shouldn't need to do anything besides turn on their phones. As T-Mobile said in a statement, "The phones are designed to automatically connect to the best available network (3G or GSM/GPRS/EDGE)." What's more, 3G use will be free for the time being. That's great news for anyone already using one of those models, but other customers will have to trade up if they want to use the new network.
Though T-Mobile also is rolling out 3.5G HSDPA coverage in its new network, currently it offers no HSDPA-capable handsets. In its press release, the carrier said that in the coming months it would introduce its first HSDPA handset and other "data-centric, all-in-one" devices. Stay tuned for more details on what exactly those phones will be. Also, the carrier said it was evaluating whether it would add any music download or video streaming services. T-Mobile is the last major U.S. carrier to introduce a 3G network.