T-Mobile Announces 3G Expansion, Notebook Connectivity

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Mobile operator T-Mobile, a unit of Deutche Telekom, has long been the number-four player in the U.S. wireless market, behind Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint and lagging in both services and coverage compared to the larger companies. But T-Mobile isn’t throwing in the towel, and has announced plans to significantly expand its 3G wireless network services. The company says 3G was up and running in 130 U.S. cities at the end of 2008, and the company plans to double the population of people covered by its 3G services by the end of 2009. That would mean adding 100 additional cities by the end of the year, and coverage for more than 200 million Americans.

T-Mobile also announced the availability of its new T-Mobile webConnect USB Laptop Stick, manufactured by Hauwei technologies, which combined 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity on T-Mobile’s networks along with up to 8 GB of portable storage. The webConnect Stick enables users to connect to 3G wireless mobile services where available, EDGE services where 3G isn’t available, along with over 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots managed by T-Mobile. Users just pop the stick into an available USB port and use built-in Connection Manager software to find the best available Internet connection for their location. The onboard storage just saves users the hassle of having to carry around a separate USB drive: now users can take their documents, media, music and Internet connectivity with them in a single device.

The webConnect stick is available for $49.99 with a two-year contract after rebate; users can also spend $99.99 for a one-year contract or $249.99 for no contract at all. Service plans for the webConnect stick start at $59.99 a month, which includes 5 GB of wireless data transfer; additional bandwidth costs $0.20 per MB.