I actually discovered that Cingular’s 3G HSDPA data service was up and running a while back, and verified that it was there (testing if nothing else) when I got the new Dell Latitude D820 with its built-in HSDPA card. It worked pretty well back then, and it’s still working well today. The difference is that I have reasonable evidence that Cingular is about to admitthat it’s up and running. My first indicator was a chat I had the other day with a Cingular tech at one of their cell sites where I have a radio transmitter on the same tower. The second indicator is that I installed a Cingular-branded Sierra Wireless Aircard 860 3G PC card modem for one of our on-air talking heads who will soon be yakking about the new service on the radio. He’s about as technically astute as a pan of macaroni and cheese, but he’s a “Personality,” so it’s assumed that his endorsement will move consumers to flock to their favorite Cingular store and snap up those $49 cards ($149 with $100 rebate) and $79.99 Laptop Connect plans. They may be right, although I’ve observed that there are a lot of tech-savvy types who will quickly see through the “personality with talking points” endorsement. That could work against marketing to that segment. I once proposed doing some endorsements from a more techie person with on-air experience — such as myself — but it never got past the station sales types, who generally think “personalities” are better than “people who know what they’re talking about.” Go figure.
I’m waiting patiently (well, alright… notso patiently) for Cingular to release their Cingular 8525, a WM5 PDA phone with HSDPA. It will be the first actual hand-held data device (I don’t count phones with WAP browsers as data devices) to use the new 3G service. I want one. I can’t stomach Blackberry’s devices, because they have lousy web browsers and no third-party software. WM5 isn’t the best thing on the planet, but it’s manageable and there are lots of excellent applications, many that I already have on my Dell Axim X50v PDA.
Hey, Cingular… want a real-world beta tester? Maybe a technically-qualified endorser? An engineer with a big mouth? 😉
So far, HSDPA has been encouraging. I’m looking forward to experimenting with using it for remote broadcast audio — it could be just what we’ve been waiting for in Little Rock.