AT&T, T-Mobile Vaunted 3G Upgrades Meaningless to BlackBerry Users

Wireless carriers AT&T and T-Mobile both announced major upgrades to their 3G cellular networks for max data transfer speeds of 7.2Mbps. That's all fine and good for AT&T and T-Mobile customers who live in certain cities and own compatible devices...but the bad news is all BlackBerry users are currently out of luck.

By
Wed, January 20, 2010

CIO

UDPATED: Since this story was originally posted, it has been updated to include a comment from T-Mobile regarding its ongoing 7.2Mbps HSPA network upgrade.

Earlier this month, on January 5, both AT&T and T-Mobile announced new upgrades to their 3G HSPA cellular networks in the United States, designed to boost maximum data transfer speeds over said networks to 7.2Mbps. That's more than double the current average 3G speeds--even triple in some cases.

Sounds good, right? The more speed, the better, yes?


Graphic of BlackBerry Bold 9700 with AT&T and T-Mobile logos

Sure. But it's not that simple. And if you're a "CrackBerry" addict like me, you're probably not going to like the bottom line about this news...

First of all, lists of the AT&T and T-Mobile smartphones that support 7.2 HSPA. Here are AT&T's five 3G HSPA 7.2 smartphones:

  • iPhone 3GS

  • HTC PURE

  • HTC Tilt2

  • Samsung Jack

  • LG eXpo

And T-Mobile's six 3G smartphones that support 7.2 HSPA:

  • T-Mobile myTouch 3G

  • T-Mobile G1

  • Motorola (MOT) CLIQ

  • Samsung Behold II

  • HTC Touch Pro2

  • T-Mobile Dash 3G

Notice anything funny, BlackBerry users? You should: there's not a single BlackBerry device in either list.

AT&T currently offers two 3G BlackBerrys: the BlackBerry Bold 9000 and the Bold 9700. T-Mobile offers just one 3G BlackBerry: the Bold 9700. But none of them support HSPA 7.2, according to BlackBerry-maker RIM.

That's right: No HSPA 7.2 for you, BlackBerry Bold users.

What's worse? (Or better depending on your device of choice...) The "anti-BlackBerry," Apple's iPhone 3GS supports HSPA 7.2, according to AT&T--not the iPhone or iPhone 3G, only the iPhone 3GS.

Now, a bit more background on AT&T and T-Mobile's network updates. Though both carriers announced the new 7.2 HSPA networks, it's unclear to what extent the new speeds are actually available to their wireless customers. For example, T-Mobile's announcement stated that it "enabled HSPA 7.2 across the network," which seems to suggest the higher data speeds are available, well, across the network. But this seems unlikely to me.

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