Ever since T-Mobile announced that they had plans to deploy UMTS on the 1700 MHz band, phone-savvy users have been expressing dismay. Essentially, any existing phone with UMTS will not be able to speak to T-Mobile UMTS towers. American UMTS phones prior to T-Mobile’s announcement used existing 850 MHz and 1900 MHz (same as GSM frequencies). Europe and Asia use the 2100 MHz band.
Recently, tri-band UMTS hardware has become commonplace, ensuring that devices could take advantage of UMTS coverage regardless of carrier or network. The T-Mobile USA change however has left customers with the realization that they would be likely limited to only the devices that T-Mobile USA sells directly; far fewer than any other UMTS carrier on the planet.
Now, T-Mobile appears to be prepared to compete by expensing additional funds on high-end devices. Nokia’s E90 has been posted on the FCC approval databases, clearly touting UMTS 1700 MHz support, in addition to 1900 MHz support. Of course, the E90 has quad-band GSM service for falling back on when T-Mobile UMTS coverage is unavailable.