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Will Nokia team up with T-mobile?

|Includes: AAPL, BB, DTEGY, Nokia Corporation (NOK)

The underdog of this year, Nokia is finally up to something big in US. And so is T-mobile. I am talking about T-mobile’s advances with HSPA data protocol and its perfect match - Nokia’s N900. There is some evidence that Nokia’s new flagship device N900 was designed specifically to accommodate T-mobile’s advanced network capabilities, but the companies haven't made any announcements yet.

 

Equipped with WCDMA/HSPA (advanced high-speed mobile protocols), N900 can use this interface in US only with T-mobile. According to Tmonews.com, network performance testing using N900 proves that HSPA 7.2 by T-mobile is ready to offer remarkable speeds of mobile internet. T-Mobile promised to roll out HSPA 7.2 by the end of this year, and HSPA+ 21Mbps by the middle of 2010. Using T-mobile’s HSPA+ network (that is currently being tested in few cities, in our example - Philadelphia) on N900, tests demonstrated 5.58 Mbps download speed and 1.23 Mbps upload – figures currently unattainable by T-mobile’s competitors in US.

 

Currently the latest Nokia’s marvel N900 is being sold in US unsubsidized by any carriers. However, even steep price of $500-600 is not slowing down strong demand. Since start of N900’s sales in US in November, it is still hard to find this unit in stock. Amazon was offering to pre-order device for $500 (after rebate) and now finally has it in stock for $647! It is not very common that Amazon rises the price like that. Early reviews support growing popularity and demonstrate that N900 is outperforming its competitors, although users admit that it’s not free from omissions. The device is being positioned as a mobile computer with cell phone capability. To list all the functions of N900 would be too lengthy, but let’s just say that like your computer, it can simultaneously have dozens of windows open on its Mozilla web browser, while still handling them with ease and have Skype and other applications open and running on the background.

         

If T-mobile offers its new data protocol and starts selling subsidized N900 with the new data plan, it should promise benefits to both companies. Nokia’s market share is inadequately low in US (in big part, due to the carriers’ policies), while T-mobile has been facing outflow of mobile internet-oriented users who were switching to AT&T and its iPhone data plan for their web needs.

 

Both Nokia and T-mobile are currently keeping silence about their plans, but there is a rumor that T-mobile will take some more time to finish testing its new data protocols and meanwhile to let Nokia polish N900’s firmware. I would expect announcement in January or early February.



Disclosure: Long NOK at time of writing