T-Mobile USA announced yesterday it has deployed its 3G HSPA network in 13 metropolitan markets and is on track to switch on 27 major US markets by the end of the year. The operator – lagging its rivals in the rollout of 3G services – has now activated 3G networks in Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio and San Diego. According to a company statement on Unstrung’s website, the operator plans to expand the service by mid-October to additional markets, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Francisco and Seattle. An additional six markets – Birmingham, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Memphis and Tampa – are expected to have the network available before the end of this year. The 27 markets would be an increase on a previous company target of 20 to 25 core markets.
T-Mobile – the fourth-largest operator in the US – trails rivals Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Nextel in offering 3G services because it previously lacked the necessary licenses. However, in 2006 the operator spent nearly US$4.2 billion for 120 Advanced Wireless Services licenses and announced plans to spend US$2.66 billion on upgrading its network. The planned 3G expansion this year is expected to deliver HSPA services to more than two-thirds of T-Mobile’s current data customers before further rollout next year. A recent edition of Wireless Intelligence’s Snapshot forecast the operator’s WCDMA/HSPA connections base will comfortably surpass 1 million before year-end and reach almost 5 million by the end of 2009 (accounting for between 10 and 15 percent of T-Mobile USA’s total connections). Its 3G expansion is likely to increase recent speculation that the operator will next month launch the hotly anticipated HTC Dream – the first device based on Google’s Android mobile operating system – for US$199 on a contract. In separate news today, Strategy Analytics released a report forecasting that US smartphone sales with Google’s Android operating system, led by the HTC Dream, will reach 400,000 units in Q4 this year, accounting for a 4 percent market share.