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USA Wireless 3G Market   - 2003

The USA is the second largest cellular market with around 153 million cellular and PCS subscribers and a population of 290 million.

The primary difference between cellular and PCS telephone service is that cellular service operates on an 800 MHz frequency range and PCS (Personal Communications Service) utilizes the 1900 MHz range. Cellular service, the original cell phone system, was introduced in the US in the early 80's. It was licensed by the FCC to two companies in each marketplace, one affiliated with the local landline telephone company and the other to a company with no telephone affiliation in that market area. By 1995, the FCC was auctioning licenses for the 1900 MHz frequency range to create a more competitive environment. As a result, the market place has been transformed from a duopoly to one that has as many as seven wireless carriers in a single market.

Late 2001 several changes happen in the USA Cellular market. First the FCC ruled in September that fixed wireless companies do not have to give up their frequency spectrum to accommodate high-speed mobile services. Then the federal government postponed for three years plans to auction spectrum used by the U.S. Department of Defense to the cellular operators. In November FCC changed the rules and stopped limiting the amount of frequencies operator can have.


  • Cingular nabs AT&T Wireless for $41 (17/02/04)
  • U.S. Cell Phone Market at a Glance (17/02/04)

    Main cellular operators and their technology in the USA are:

    1 Verizon Wireless is offering services based on cdma2000 1x technology up to 144 kbit/s initially. Verizon has said that users should see speeds of 40 to 60 kbit/s on average. Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc. [Coverage Map]

    1 Cingular Wireless plans to upgrade its wireless networks by early 2004 to a GPRS and EDGE. GPRS offer data speeds of up to 177 kbit/s initially, but users will initially be able to speed of 40 kbit/s. Eventually EDGE promises data speeds of up to 470 kbit/s, although consumers will realistically see about 100 kilobits per second on average. Cingular is a joint venture between BellSouth Corp. and SBC Communications Inc. [Coverage Map]

    1 AT&T Wireless is deploying GPRS networks in about 40 percent of its markets in 2001. It plans to offer the service nationally by the end of 2002. AT&T Wireless plans to simultaneously begin deploying EDGE through software upgrades and it plans to deploy EDGE nationwide by the end of 2002. The company plans to start deploying WCDMA, in 2003 and to finish that deployment in 2004, but it has admitted that it only has enough airwaves currently to roll out the service in 80 percent of its markets. [Coverage Map]

    1 Sprint PCS plans to start its cdma2000 1x networks nationwide in 2002 with speeds up to 144 kbit/s initially. Users should see speeds of 40 to 60 kbit/s on average. Sprint PCS expects to make improvements throughout the year to enable data speeds of up to 288 kilobits per second. Sprint PCS has not announced plans to deploy cdma2000 1xEV-DO, which promises peak data rates of over 2 megabits per second. Sprint PCS is a unit of Sprint Corp. [Coverage Map]

    1 T-Mobile (ex VoiceStream) launched its GPRS service in November 2001 under the brand iStream. VoiceStream is the only national operator that currently offers a network based completely on GSM technology. VoiceStream network can run at speeds up to 56 kbit/s and averages up to 40 kbit/s. VoiceStream is a unit of Germany's Deutsche Telekom. [Coverage Map]

    1 Nextel Communications has not yet disclosed plans for a data-capable next-generation network. Analysts have speculated that Nextel will switch to CDMA and upgrade its networks with cdma2000 technologies. [Coverage Map]

    1 Alltel uses cdma technology. [Coverage Map]

    Western Wireless uses cdma technology. [Coverage Map]

    Leap Wireless has selected cdma2000 for high speed data services. It will evaluate the need for further 3G network upgrades across its markets, expects the majority of its 1x upgrades to take place starting in the first half of 2002. [Coverage Map]

    More mobile operators:

  • Airadigm Communications
  • Cellular One
  • Cincinnati Bell
  • Conestoga Wireless Company
  • High Plains/Midwest LLC
  • Iowa Wireless Services LP
  • Message Express
  • Panhandle Telecommunications System Inc.
  • PinPoint Wireless Inc.

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