AT&T debuts 3G network
Good things might just come in threes for Oahu cell-phone users.
AT&T Inc. officially launched its third-generation, or 3G network, on the island today, making it the third mobile phone company in the state to offer the service. It plans to expand to the rest of the state by mid-2008.
The service allows customers in the network's service area to download pictures, videos, music and other programming at 1.4 megabytes a second and upload at up to 500 kilobytes a second. Other 3G applications include live video sharing with other AT&T 3G customers and Internet access. The service area runs from Makakilo to Hawaii Kai and up to Wahiawa.
Verizon Communications Inc. launched its high-speed mobile service in February on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Lanai and the Big Island. Sprint Nextel followed in April with the same service on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. It plans to cover the rest of the state by the end of this year.
AT&T has invested $49 million in Hawaii's wireless network in the past three years, which includes the addition of 35 cell sites, spokesman Edward Maruyama said. He declined to provide how many cell sites AT&T operates here, but said the new towers have been "incremental" additions. AT&T's 3G network is available in more than 200 U.S. metro areas.
NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan's largest mobile-phone company, said in July it will provide as much as $24 million for the construction of AT&T's high-speed mobile network here. The network eventually could allow for international roaming in Hawaii by DoCoMo's Japanese cell phones, which are incompatible with existing U.S. networks.
AT&T sells about a dozen phones in Hawaii that can use the new network. Phones are automatically connected, and customers will know if they are on the network if there is a small 3G symbol at the top left corner of the phone's screen.
There is no extra fee to be connected to the 3G network, although the video sharing and Internet services start at $4.99 a month and $19.99 a month, respectively.