Monday, March 10, 2008

AWS Phones, Here We Come

Why are we talking about the new 1700 MHz AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) spectrum in a blog about unlimited cell plans? Because it's being used by CricKet, of course.

To be precise, it is being used by CricKet, MetroPCS, US Cellular and Verizon, to be exact. Two of which are unlimited carriers; how interesting. This is probably due to AWS being pretty close to the PCS spectrum in use by these companies, so they already know how to optimize their networks for high-band cellular, I suppose. But then why aren't Sprint and T-Mobile in the mix, or did the article I was reading about AWS just forget to mention them?

Anyway, CricKet, in two markets (Tulsa, Oklahoma and Las Vegas, Nevada) is finally making use of the AWS spectrum it snapped up in 2006's auction. The first phone to get this service (the first tri-band CDMA phone to see actual duty, in fact) is the rather low-end UTStarCom 7126. The little guy has indicator lights instead of an external display, and features only 1xRTT data (nothing high-speed) but it does have Bluetooth, and for talking away that's pretty much all you need anyway. the price hasn't been announced for this phone yet, and it isn't up on CricKet's website yet either, and it probably won't be for another few months, while the AWS networks are finished up and made ready for service. But it's interesting to watch.

Oh, and if you're wondering about what other cellular goodies are going to be tri-band CDMA, here are a few models that have passed the doors of the FCC, bound it seems for CricKet and MetroPCS, who would seem to need the new frequency the most (due both to coverage and capacity constraints...nobody roams on them to my knowledge so the AWS spectrum for only their service makes more sense than would a normal cell carrier):
  • UTStarCom 7176
  • UTStarCom 8076
  • Samsung R430 (might show up on US Cellular or even Verizon, or might not)
  • Samsung R210a
  • Kyocera S4000 (might show up on US Cellular)
  • ZTE C79 (probably MetroPCS-exclusive)
  • Huawei M328 (probably MetroPCS-exclusive)
Please note that the carrier associations I'm drawing (the lack of which means that I expect the phones to be Cricket\MetroPCS models, and theirs only), while based on what I can see of the market right now, are by no means the product of insider information so my actually be completely wrong. But the model numbers are fine. :)


Buddy said...

Speaking of MetroPCS, I've heard they are going to offer PTT on a Kyocera handset. have you heard anything about that???

Ian said...

I have not, actually...