T-Mobile needs to differentiate its UMTS network

Like many of you, I thought better late than never when I heard last week's announcement from T-Mobile USA that it will have its 3G UMTS/HSDPA network available in 21 markets by mid-October and 27 markets by year-end. Finally this Tier 1 operator has some semblance of a mobile broadband offering (beyond its WiFi hotspots) using its newly acquired AWS spectrum. But with its late start, T-Mobile really needs some clever applications and devices to make its UMTS service stand apart from the crowd.

So far T-Mobile has been mum about any special applications or services geared to the higher speed network.  We do know that the carrier is about to launch the first device based upon Google's Android operating system--now called the T-Mobile G1--and it's supposed to work on the carrier's UMTS network. FierceWireless associate editor Phil Goldstein is in New York today covering T-Mobile's unveiling of the device and will be bringing you all the latest news on it.

With T-Mobile's UMTS coverage concentrated in dense markets, however, the company would be wise to make sure the quality of service on the Dream device is consistent regardless of whether the user is on the UMTS network or the carrier's slower-speed EDGE network. T-Mobile certainly doesn't want to experience the same fallout that AT&T and Apple experienced with the iPhone 3G and its alleged 3G connectivity issues.

We do know that the carrier is actively recruiting developers. At the CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment conference a  few weeks ago in San Francisco, Venetia Espinoza, T-Mobile USA's director of product development for mobile apps and partner programs, talked with FierceWireless about how the company's new devPartner Community program was going to make it easier and more efficient for developers to do business with the company. T-Mobile is offering developers at least 50 percent of revenues with the potential to earn as much as 70 percent from their efforts.

Perhaps with its developer outreach and its attractive revenue split, T-Mobile will be able to attract smart developers with innovative applications to make its UMTS network stand apart from the others. But the company better hurry. Competitors such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint Nextel already have a leg up on mobile broadband services and the gap is only going to get wider as time goes on. --Sue

P.S. Mobile financial services are gaining lots of traction with consumers. I'll be moderating a Webinar on this topic Thursday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. Join Vance Hodnett of the Pelorus Group, Kyle Cochran of Firethorn,  Rohit Mehra of Verisign and me as we discuss the benefits and the challenges to offering this service.  Sign up here