Cingular has finally launched its 3g service, hoping that it will be able to attract some of the big spending customers who are looking for constant-always on connectivity. It is not cheap, and will set you back by $60 a month for unlimited use. (Unlimited, up until the company decides is just too much!) Without a phone plan, it will cost $80 a month. The UMTS/HSDPA services will eventually offer speeds of between 400 to 700 kilobits per second, which will make it comparable to what Verizon Wireless or Sprint have to offer. (The press release is confusing because they talk about UMTS and HSDPA, and there is a clear speed difference!)
Right now the service is available in 16 cities including Austin (TX.), Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland (OR.), Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA.), Seattle, Tacoma (Wash.) and Washington D.C. No New York for now! There are two laptop card options – one from Sierra Wireless (AC860) and one from Novatel Wireless (U730). No other devices are available right now, which tells me the company was looking for some pre-Holiday sizzle than any real reason to roll out the service.
Also folks, don’t get too excited and start signing up for the services if you own European 3G phones. They will simply not work in the US. Here is why! (Also read Daily Wireless recap of the news.)
However, for those looking for connectivity, I think it is no point going for the low-speed UMTS service that has been announced. A basic $20 a month EDGE connection from T-Mobile is better value for money, and will pretty much get the job done – that is getting emails and some basic web-surfing. Bundled with the $20-a-month T-Mobile WiFi, you might be able to extract more value for your dollars. I mean how many times do you really check your email/or check out your RSS feed when driving at 50 mph. Of course, most people have different opinions on this matter 🙂