Mobile 3G Data and Travelling with the Bell HTC Desire Z

Tower As I posted recently, I travelled to the US and was limited to EDGE speeds only on my HTC Desire Z. Now that I’ve done a little research I’ve managed to figure out why. My phone was purchased from Bell here in Canada, and unlocked for use on the Rogers wireless network.  The Bell HTC Desire Z has the following operating bands:

  • UMTS/HSPA 850/1900
  • GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900
  • According to the great wiki, (UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+) service by T-Mobile exclusively uses the AWS 1700/2100  MHz frequency-band. That explains why I was stuck with EDGE. The good news for travelling in the states is that AT&T uses the same bands as Rogers. The bad news is that they don’t have reasonable prepaid data plan available for use with smartphones.

    This got me thinking about the my old Palm Treo Pro that worked so well in Europe. It turns out that the Treo has tri-band UMTS on the 850/1900/2100 bands. Hmmm. This is the first thing I’ve discovered about my Desire Z that I’m not liking. Time to see what imact this limitation will have on my future travels.

    Some basic googling turned up a page with the main Hong Kong provider bands.

    • 3HK: 3G/HSDPA 2100 MHz
    • CSL: 3G/HSDPA 900 & 2100 MHz
    • Peoples: 2G EDGE 1800 MHz

    [Update Feb 8. 2011: See my post on Hong Kong prepaid GSM providers]

    The great wiki also tells us that most of europe uses the 2100 band for UMTS. The fact that there are Asian and European versions of the HTC Desire Z that operate on 900/2100 bands leaves me thinking that I will likely be out of luck. More information can be found at the Brighthand Forums.

    This is a little over-simplified, but the best I can can figure is as follows for 3g data:

    • Europe and Hong Kong require 2100
    • Rogers in Canada and AT&T in the US requires 850/1900
    • T-Mobile requires 1700/2100 AWS (not the same as the 2100 in Europe/Asia)

    It looks like it will be EDGE speeds for me when travelling. I might bring along the Treo Pro just to use as a 3G modem with my laptop. Who knew how useful that old Palm was!

    Now I know another thing to look for on the next upgrade: an unlocked 3g 850/1900/2100 Android phone .

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