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T-Mobile 3G/Wi-Fi Laptop Modem Debuts

Bellevue, Wash. — T-Mobile USA launched its first 3G laptop modem and updated its 3G rollout plans, saying it will expand its 1.7/2.1GHz W-CDMA/HSDPA 3G network to 230 cities by the end of the year, from more than 130 at the end of 2008.

 The expansion would bring service to a population of more than 200 million people, delivering download rates of an average of 600kbps with 1Mbps peaks.

 Consumers in all of those markets will be able to attain high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) wireless-data speeds if they use the T-Mobile’s new Huawei-made WebConnect USB Laptop Stick, a dual-mode Wi-Fi/3G modem available at $49.99 with two-year contract after rebate or $99.99 with one-year contract. The no-contract price is $249.99.

 The swiveling device operates on Windows laptops, but a Mac-compatible version is due in the coming months. It’s bundled with a $59.99/month service plan that includes 5GB of wireless data. The overage charge is $0.20/MB. The plan includes unlimited Wi-Fi 802.11b/g access in T-Mobile hot spots in more than 10,000 public spaces. Wi-Fi usage does not count against the customers’ data plan.

The stick, which also stores up to 8GB of user files via MicroSD/SDHC card slot, incorporates Connection Manager software that automatically finds the best available Internet connection. It also receives cellular SMS messages.

For U.S. and worldwide use, the device features tri-band (800/900/1900MHz) GSM/EDGE and tri-band HSDPA (1800, 1900, 1700/2100 AWS). It’s available at T-Mobile’s online store, T-Mobile retail stores and select third-party stores in cities where T-Mobile’s 3G service is currently available.

 “The T-Mobile WebConnect USB Laptop Stick provides a true plug-and-play experience for customers to stay connected — virtually anytime, everywhere on the T-Mobile-owned network,” said Jeremy Korst, T-Mobile USA’s broadband products and services director.