1. berryite's Avatar
    I've seen many people in different threads comment that T-Mobile's 3G is not compatible with AT&T's 3G and that T-Mobile has a very different and unique 3G network in the USA.

    This doesn't make any sense.

    T-Mobile and AT&T share roaming agreements all over the country. In some areas AT&T's service is weak and AT&T customers can roam on T-Mobile's network and in other areas T-Mobile customers enjoy service in areas where AT&T might be stronger.

    If AT&T and T-Mobile's 3G networks are not compatible, does this nullify the benefits of the roaming agreements these two carriers share?

    And what about equipment? While we T-Mobile customers believe T-Mobile is a superior carrier to AT&T, you can't ignore that AT&T has a larger subscriber base here in the USA. T-Mobile is a larger carrier globally, but AT&T still has more customers in the USA only. Isn't this a nightmare for all the cell phone manufacturers? BlackBerry, Nokia, Motorola? They can't just produce one GSM 3G phone for the USA, they have to produce 2 different variants ... one that works on AT&T and one that works on T-Mobile?

    What was T-Mobile's objective in designing a 3G network that is not compatible with the other GSM provider in this country?

    Is T-Mobile's variant of 3G a European standard that makes T-Mobile's phones work on any 3G network globally?

    I just don't get the reason that T-Mobile would design their network to be incompatible with AT&T's in the USA. There must be a good reason. I haven't seen anyone comment on it.

    Anyone got some insight on this?
    05-30-09 09:15 PM
  2. xTemptati0n's Avatar
    From my knowledge, that roaming agreement doesn't exist anymore. For example when I go to class, I get no service and it switches to AT&T's tower but only for emergency calls. This would more than likely explain the issue that you speak of. Roaming and switching towers may not deal with 3G either, more specifically when you'd have to switch towers in theory, the more important thing is that your phone works for phone calls till you come into contact with your own provider's cell tower. Data and 3G call quality would probably be the least of the two providers worries when in a shared tower agreement, but like I said, I'm pretty sure that AT&T and T-Mobile ended that agreement.
    05-30-09 09:29 PM
  3. berryite's Avatar
    I'm pretty sure that AT&T and T-Mobile ended that agreement.
    As a T-Mobile customer I still find that I roam on AT&T network in different parts of California. And I believe AT&T's customers still widely ride on T-Mobile's network in parts of New York where AT&T's service is very weak.

    But I'm less interested in the technicalities of roaming agreements as compared to an explanation as to why AT&T and T-Mobile have incompatible variants of 3G networks.

    If we follow the "progress" here:

    • Last year your unlocked 8300-series Curve could work equally well on either AT&T's network or T-Mobile's network.

    • Today your 3G AT&T BlackBerry Bold will not work on T-Mobile's 3G network.

    • Next year when both AT&T and T-Mobile will have largely moved their customers into 3G phones on their respective 3G networks, AT&T's 3G phones will not work on T-Mobile's network and T-Mobile's 3G phones will not work on AT&T's network.

    I'm looking to understand why the two largest GSM carriers in the USA will not have compatible 3G networks in the near future.
    05-30-09 10:18 PM
  4. shado's Avatar
    I'm not really sure but I suppose there were bids over the frequencies on which the carriers would deploy their 3g service, so att bought the one they are using and tmobile bought a different one.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    05-31-09 02:37 AM
  5. berryite's Avatar
    I'm not really sure but I suppose there were bids over the frequencies on which the carriers would deploy their 3g service, so att bought the one they are using and tmobile bought a different one.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    So if you go to Europe and you take your 3G BB with you, it's going to be a hit or miss process as to whether or not your particular variant of 3G will work in any particular country?

    This is crazy.

    The historical coolness of GSM has been that your GSM phone will work anywhere. Going overseas? Your carrier's rates too high in a particular country? Pop out your SIM card and buy a prepaid SIM and use it.

    But now 3G GSM is a different animal? It may work some places but not others? If this is what it seems it is, there doesn't seem to be any advantage to sticking with T-Mobile or AT&T. We should all just go to Verizon and call it a day.

    What am I missing?
    06-01-09 02:48 AM
  6. jamestbrewer's Avatar
    So if you go to Europe and you take your 3G BB with you, it's going to be a hit or miss process as to whether or not your particular variant of 3G will work in any particular country?

    This is crazy.

    The historical coolness of GSM has been that your GSM phone will work anywhere. Going overseas? Your carrier's rates too high in a particular country? Pop out your SIM card and buy a prepaid SIM and use it.

    But now 3G GSM is a different animal? It may work some places but not others? If this is what it seems it is, there doesn't seem to be any advantage to sticking with T-Mobile or AT&T. We should all just go to Verizon and call it a day.

    What am I missing?
    Not really, GSM is still the same animal as before, your unlocked device needs to support the frequency of the foreign network you're on.

    Here is a very general outline of common frequencies:
    Voice and GPRS (EDGE)- 900 and 1800 in most of the world outside NA, 850 and 1900 in NA
    3G Data- 2100 in Europe and Asia, 1900 in NA, 1700 for TMo USA

    The Bold works for VOICE on 900, 1800, 850 and 1900 MHz, ie most, if not all, of the GSM using world. It will be able to use 3G on 2100, 1900 and 850 MHz, which is a good portion 3G HSDPA using world. So an unlocked Bold will work on practically every GSM voice network, and many HSDPA networks you go to. The Bold wont be able to use 3G data on TMo USA, but will be able to use EDGE data.

    Regardless of 3G data, you should be able to use voice and GPRS data with the Bold on foreign networks.
    06-01-09 06:44 AM
  7. berryite's Avatar
    The Bold works for VOICE on 900, 1800, 850 and 1900 MHz, ie most, if not all, of the GSM using world. It will be able to use 3G on 2100, 1900 and 850 MHz, which is a good portion 3G HSDPA using world.
    Thanks for your thoughts James. But the issue here is not just the Bold. Over the coming months, BlackBerry alone will be adding the Onxy, the Driftwood and potentially other 3G phones. It appears that all of these phones will all have different 3G network protocols. That seems to be a nightmare on the surface. Add in Nokia, Motorola and other cell manufacturers and it really can't be anything other than a nightmare.

    We know that starting soon, AT&T and T-Mobile will be transitioning their customers in masse from GSM Edge phones to GSM 3G phones ... much like they transitioned customers from TDMA phones to standard GSM phones not that many years ago. When this happens, it would appear that phones on AT&T's network won't work on T-Mobile's network and visa versa. Now this is only in the USA. What about England, Germany, France, etc, etc, etc. Will my Driftwood 3G phone work on my T-Mobile 3G network in the USA but potentially not on the T-Mobile 3G network in Germany? Is this all going to start to become a completely unreliable proposition where all these different variants of 3G basically render your phone unreliable except on your own home network?

    The appeal of GSM to me is the fact that I can go to LAX tonight and fly anywhere in the world (or at least anywhere in the world I'd *want* to go) and get off the plane in London, Paris or Rome and be able to turn on my phone and not worry that it would work.

    Under your explanation, T-Mobile's 1700 MHz will work on the T-Mobile USA network, but will it reliably work even on T-Mobile's European networks and can I even use alternate GSM networks in countries where perhaps T-Mobile doesn't have service and/or their rates are too high and I may wish to use a prepaid SIM from an alternate carrier?

    It seems to me that when you start running all these incompatible variants of 3G, you are basically turning AT&T and T-Mobile into what Verizon already is ... a carrier who operates a network that is reliable only in its own home market. If that is the case, Verizon arguably has terrific USA network coverage anywhere you'd want to be in the USA so again why would we all not just want to go to Verizon and call it a day if AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon all have networks that are essentially guaranteed to work only in the USA?

    Again, what am I missing?
    06-01-09 01:33 PM
  8. frenchy99's Avatar
    Okay...here is a better explanation on how it works!

    o the question every sports fan wants to know is: who won?! Who won the AWS auction? The (nice, but somehow unsatisfying) answer is that everybody was a winner. Well, almost everyone....

    Although Sprint's joint venture with the cable companies was a big winner, Sprint didn't participate directly. That spectrum won't be used for Sprint-branded service or existing MVNOs, since Sprint has always had plenty of spectrum, and has even more since merging with Nextel. It won't be used to create a whole new, separate wireless phone company, either. Sprint didn't enter into the joint venture to compete with itself that way.

    Alltel was curiously absent from bidding. Apparently they think they have enough spectrum already, or that the AWS spectrum was too expensive. It would also seem to indicate that they don't have major expansion plans, or they plan to expand only via mergers and acquisitions.

    Pretty much all of the other major players in the biz played the AWS auction game.

    (tmo-map)

    The AWS auction was far more important to T-Mobile than any other company. T-Mobile has, until now, been unable to launch any kind of 3G service due to lack of spectrum. AWS will finally give them the spectrum they need to launch 3G and catch up to the other major carriers.

    T-Mobile's new AWS licenses cover the whole country, including Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. To cover the whole country, T-Mobile opted to go after the larger, simpler (but more expensive) D-F blocks, which are divided by REAG.

    T-Mobile tried to get the coveted 20 MHz F block where they could, but were out-bid by Verizon Wireless in many regions. They did score F block licenses in the Central and West regions, and they picked up both the D and E block in the Southeast.

    That left them with only 10 MHz of AWS spectrum in the Northeast, Great Lakes, and Mississippi Valley regions. That might not be enough for major cities, so they beefed it up with an extra 110 A and C block licenses in urban areas. Their biggest A block wins were in the New York and Chicago areas. Their biggest C block licenses are for Philadelphia, Phoenix, LA, and Seattle. That will give them a whopping 30 MHz of AWS spectrum in New York, Chicago, Phoenix, LA, and Seattle.

    (verizon-map)

    Verizon didn't mess around with the AWS auction. They didn't bother with any of that 10 MHz block nonsense. Every license they won was a big ol' 20 MHz chunk. They even snapped up the most valuable license of the whole auction: the 20 MHz F block for the Northeast. That license alone cost them over $1.3 billion.

    They also picked up the valuable F block in the Southeast, Great Lakes, and Mississippi Valley regions, giving them a huge swath of 20 MHz spectrum covering the whole Mississippi river area and everything east of it, well over half the country (in population.)

    The only smaller A and B block licenses they bothered with were for Louisiana and Hawaii.

    (sprint-cable-map)

    SpectrumCo is Sprint's joint venture with the major cable companies (including Comcast, Time Warner, and Cox.)

    They picked up 20 MHz licenses in the B block covering most of the populated areas of the continental US, plus an odd extra 10 MHz in Houston. They also went after Hawaii, although Verizon out-bid them for the B block, so they picked up the C and D blocks there instead.

    With the exception of Hawaii, it's an advantage that all of SpectrumCo's AWS spectrum is in one block. It could make it easier for hardware manufacturers to create radios and antennas for just that one very specific frequency band.

    (metropcs-map)

    MetroPCS didn't buy very many licenses, but the ones they did buy were pretty darn big. They spent almost $1.4 billion - a huge amount for such a small company. Clearly they are ready to expand in a big way.

    By far the most cash went toward the Northeast region, where they bought a 10 MHz regional license, plus an extra 10 MHz license for the all-important NYC metro area. They also greatly expanded their spectrum holdings in the west, buying a 10 Mhz regional license for the whole west coast, plus an extra 10 MHz for the Las Vegas area.

    They also picked up some smaller licenses for the Dallas and Detroit areas. They already offer service in those cities, so the new spectrum is presumably to expand capacity and coverage in those areas.

    (cingular-map)

    Cingular bought a wide variety of different licenses. There's no one clear strategy or pattern to their purchases. They did spend $1.3 billion, though, so it's doubtful they bought the spectrum just to hold on to for a rainy day.

    They picked up two major 10 MHz licenses covering the whole West and Central regions. They also supplemented that with an additional 20 MHz of A block spectrum in LA and Dallas.

    They also picked up a smattering of licenses in the rest of the country, in the A, B and C blocks. The largest metro areas covered in that group are Boston, Washington/Baltimore, Miami, Atlanta, and Chicago. All of those were cheaper 10 MHz C block licenses. In smaller cities, they went for the larger 20 MHz A and B block licenses. They also bought the D block in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

    (cricket-map)

    Cricket spent $710 million (directly) in the AWS auction. Their largest purchase was the E block for the Central region, which they managed to snag for $122 million.

    The rest of their purchases were mostly in the A and C blocks. Major cities covered include Milwaukee, Memphis, San Diego, Philadelphia, Washington, St. Louis, Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Seattle.

    The Great Lakes D block (shown above in diagonal stripes) was bought by Denali, a company set up by Cricket specifically to participate in the AWS auction. Cricket helped start Denali with an initial investment of $7.6 million, which will be followed by an additional $83.9 million over the next year or so. Cricket also loaned Denali $203.8 million to buy the Great Lakes D block, and has promised to loan them another $87.3 million to build a network to use it. While Denali is technically a separate company, with all that money invested, clearly Cricket expects to use Denali's network for Cricket service.

    So why go to all that trouble? To qualify for a "bidding credit" that Denali was entitled to as a "very small" company. Denali only had to pay 75% of what they bid. That may seem like cheating, but they were just playing by the rules the FCC created. Taking advantage of the bidding credit loophole saved them over $90 million.

    (uscc-barat-map)

    Barat is another "very small" company created to take advantage of the small business rules in the AWS auction. Like Denali, Barat qualified for a 25% "bidding credit" discount.

    Barat is backed by US Cellular, which made an initial capital contribution of $80 million to fund Barat's participation in the AWS auction. US Cellular has also promised more money if Barat needs it, which they probably will, since they now owe the FCC $127 million for the licenses they won. Given the financial situation, let's just call this US Cellular spectrum....

    So US Cellular's big score was a 10 MHz E block license for the whole Mississippi Valley region. They also picked up a number of 20 MHz licenses in the A and B blocks, including St. Louis, Milwaukee, Tulsa, Des Moines, and Omaha. Their licenses for St. Louis and Topeka overlap with the big Mississippi Valley regional license, giving them 30 MHz total in those cities.
    06-01-09 02:51 PM
  9. berryite's Avatar
    Okay...here is a better explanation on how it works!
    Frenchy my man, wow. That was a lot of information and a lot of typing. You're the hero of the thread here.

    It appears to me that I need to do some more reading on the technical side of spectrum and get a bit better educated. Your walk through the history of spectrum bidding is enlightening and helpful.

    Let's render this down for the common man though.

    In the early 2000s, AT&T started rolling out GSM and shutting down their aging TDMA network. Within a little over a year, there weren't many TDMA folks left on TDMA and most of the AT&T customer base had been migrated over to GSM. Concurrently, T-Mobile made their USA debut and they started rolling out a GSM network. Whether you were an AT&T customer or a T-Mobile customer, your GSM phone was essentially interchangable between networks and you could travel throughout the USA or the world with your GSM Motorola RAZR or your GSM BlackBerry or your GSM Nokia and the phone would work essentially on any GSM carrier. It was really cool. The consumer had the world at their disposal ... literally. Let's not forget what GSM stands for ... "GLOBAL SYSTEM FOR MOBILE."

    Just ahead this will be changing. Seemingly 3G phones will NOT work between one carrier and the next. Let me ask some very basic questions:

    1.) Will my BB 3G Driftwood phone on T-Mobile's network work in exactly every place with exactly the same functionality that my 8300 or my 8900 Curve will work today? In the USA and outside the USA? Essentially am I GIVING UP anything in connectivity going 3G?

    2.) I love your country, France. To me, Paris is bea-u-tiful. If I go to LAX tonight with a Driftwood 3G phone and fly to Paris, can I expect my 3G phone to work as well as my non 3G Curve phones do today when I get off the plane?

    3.) Is all this different variant of 3G design going to really be a problem for the average man?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
    06-01-09 10:14 PM
  10. ace587's Avatar
    Tmobile = 1700mhz 3G
    AT&T = 850mhz 3G

    not the same
    06-01-09 10:59 PM
  11. frenchy99's Avatar
    Frenchy my man, wow. That was a lot of information and a lot of typing. You're the hero of the thread here.

    It appears to me that I need to do some more reading on the technical side of spectrum and get a bit better educated. Your walk through the history of spectrum bidding is enlightening and helpful.

    Let's render this down for the common man though.

    In the early 2000s, AT&T started rolling out GSM and shutting down their aging TDMA network. Within a little over a year, there weren't many TDMA folks left on TDMA and most of the AT&T customer base had been migrated over to GSM. Concurrently, T-Mobile made their USA debut and they started rolling out a GSM network. Whether you were an AT&T customer or a T-Mobile customer, your GSM phone was essentially interchangable between networks and you could travel throughout the USA or the world with your GSM Motorola RAZR or your GSM BlackBerry or your GSM Nokia and the phone would work essentially on any GSM carrier. It was really cool. The consumer had the world at their disposal ... literally. Let's not forget what GSM stands for ... "GLOBAL SYSTEM FOR MOBILE."

    Just ahead this will be changing. Seemingly 3G phones will NOT work between one carrier and the next. Let me ask some very basic questions:

    1.) Will my BB 3G Driftwood phone on T-Mobile's network work in exactly every place with exactly the same functionality that my 8300 or my 8900 Curve will work today? In the USA and outside the USA? Essentially am I GIVING UP anything in connectivity going 3G?

    2.) I love your country, France. To me, Paris is bea-u-tiful. If I go to LAX tonight with a Driftwood 3G phone and fly to Paris, can I expect my 3G phone to work as well as my non 3G Curve phones do today when I get off the plane?

    3.) Is all this different variant of 3G design going to really be a problem for the average man?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
    1-Yes it will its not a question of frequency its question of band
    Meaning in Europe they have 1900/2100

    Tmobile uses AWS 1700 for the states /2100 for the rest of the world!

    Please also refer to the charts below

    2) Yes- Because all AWS phones that will come out will have all the right bands!


    3) No the different 3G are allocated based on availability and reliability


    Hope all this makes sense!
    Last edited by frenchy99; 06-02-09 at 12:51 AM.
    06-02-09 12:43 AM
  12. Black9000's Avatar
    If I had known the t-mobile 3G network would be incompatible with my unlocked Bold then I never wouldve paid for a brand new bold. I couldve easily paid for the 8900 and still get the same features I do now with my Bold. It's so irritating to me to hear about t-mobile 3G network only to find out I can't use it!!! Don't get me wrong...I LOVE MY BOLD but I hate the fact that I can't use all of its capabilities

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    06-03-09 03:40 PM
  13. mattglobal's Avatar
    Virtually the entire world outside the US uses the 2100MHz band for 3G coverage. The Bold operates on the 850, 1900 and 2100MHz bands, so you're covered in North America (under AT&T or Rogers) and in Europe and Asia. Specifically, Rogers and AT&T's 3G networks work on the 850 and 1900MHz bands.

    T-Mobile USA's 3G network works on the 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands (the phone requires both for 3G functionality). So the T-Mobile USA 3G blackberry will work on 3G in the US (under T-Mobile's service) and everywhere else.

    I got 3G coverage in Asia just fine on my 8707, and it's sole 3G band is 2100MHz.

    I got a Bold even though I knew that I'd never have 3G functionality on T-Mobile in N. America because: a) it was better than my 8320 and b) I didn't want to have to go back to my 8707 everytime I went to Japan.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    06-04-09 10:17 PM
  14. ace587's Avatar
    the upcoming BB driftwood will support 1700 and 2100mhz as separate frequencies.
    06-05-09 01:36 AM
  15. berryite's Avatar
    the upcoming BB driftwood will support 1700 and 2100mhz as separate frequencies.
    So T-Mobile customers in the USA will have their own frequency in the USA at the 1700mhz and then also be able to access the 2100mhz internationally so we're all still good to go anywhere in the world.

    What people need to think about now is that while in the past you might have considered trying to use an AT&T phone on the T-Mobile network (or vice versa), you can't do that anymore. You can't get an Apple i-Toy errr, I mean i-Phone and think you can use it on the T-Mobile network because T-Mobile and AT&T are no longer compatible GSM networks.

    I got this now. I appreciate all the great input from the posters in this thread.
    06-08-09 02:37 AM
  16. mattglobal's Avatar
    What people need to think about now is that while in the past you might have considered trying to use an AT&T phone on the T-Mobile network (or vice versa), you can't do that anymore. You can't get an Apple i-Toy errr, I mean i-Phone and think you can use it on the T-Mobile network because T-Mobile and AT&T are no longer compatible GSM networks.
    Of course you can use an AT&T phone on T-Mobile and use T-Mobile phones on AT&T. You'll just be limited to 2G coverage. But that's nothing new. I have an Orange Bold I use on T-Mobile, so I only get 3G coverage when I go to Europe or Asia. My friend as an AT&T 8310 he uses on T-Mobile. Another uses a T-Mobile 8900 on AT&T. They all work just fine.
    06-08-09 09:56 AM
  17. berryite's Avatar
    Of course you can use an AT&T phone on T-Mobile and use T-Mobile phones on AT&T. You'll just be limited to 2G coverage.
    You're missing the entire point of this thread but thanks for your thoughts.
    06-08-09 02:23 PM
  18. mattglobal's Avatar
    You're missing the entire point of this thread but thanks for your thoughts.
    No, I'm not. I understand that the thread began as an inquiry into the varying 3G bands employed by North American GSM providers, but you wrote that people wouldn't be able to swap phones between carriers "anymore." There never was any cross compatibaility between AT&T and T-Mobile USA with respect to 3G, while there always has been with respect to 2G functionality. An 8900 works just as well on AT&T as on T-Mobile.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    06-08-09 08:32 PM
  19. berryite's Avatar
    No, I'm not.
    Please stop trying to take the thread off topic. The thread concerns 3G, not 2G. We all know what you are saying and your continuing to say it over and over isn't really contributing anything.
    06-08-09 08:52 PM
  20. tom0100's Avatar
    You can ROAM on both networks. It's for Voice and EDGE data ONLY. NO 3G!

    It's that simple.

    The contracts started WAY before 3G and that is their main purpose (keep voice working)
    12-22-09 02:41 PM
  21. syb0rg's Avatar
    Quad Band GSM phones with 3G options work on one of four GSM bands, and one 3G band.... The phone will work over seas or across carrier lines.

    The only thing that will not work are carrier specific programs like UMA, and 3G bands. Other than that the phones will work 100% just like they should

    go to mcdonalds and order a Whopper.... EVERYOTHER burgerking sells whoppers.... why not McDonalds..... That is exactly what you are saying...

    It is a marketing trick to get people to stay with their current provider. plain and simple... i spend 440 dollars on my 9700. i would be stupid to sell it for x amount of $$ then go to ATT and spend another 200 on the same phone..... and the FCC allows it to happen, so they will abuse it to their side.....

    / thread

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    Last edited by mjneid; 12-22-09 at 03:46 PM.
    12-22-09 03:43 PM
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