Cingular Expands 3G

While Verizon and Sprint are busy in an EVDO Rev A standoff, Cingular is occupied with expanding its 3G network. Cingular says it now offers 3G in “more than 160 markets, including most of the top 100 major cities in the country.” We’ve been following Cingular’s 3G rollout over the past few months, including when they said they had lit up Northern California.

For Cingular, 3G is its HSDPA/UMTS network that has average download data speeds between 400 to 700 kbps. But Cingular says:

“in areas where the 3G network is not available, customers will automatically receive service on the company’s EDGE network.”

We were wondering how often users are relegated to the EDGE network on cell phones in markets where Cingular’s 3G is supposed to be live? We asked Cingular and they said users know they’re on the 3G network because the 3G icon will only appear on the mobile screen in the UMTS/HSDPA network. Simple enough.

We’ve been using a 3G-compatible phone (LG CU500) over Cingular’s network around the Bay Area where there is supposed to be coverage, and it doesn’t seem all that blazing fast to us — though the phone shows the 3G icon. If you’re using a cell phone over Cingular’s 3G service, tell us how it’s working out.