With their bid for 3G (or third generation) bandwidth forestalled, American wireless companies are aggressively upgrading their second generation networks so you can get some "3G-like" benefits without the wide wireless bands that Japan and Europe enjoy.
Known as 2.5G, upgrades include faster Internet access, GPS location services, more reliable connections, greater call capacity, advanced text messaging and always-on e-mail.
Cingular Wireless, America's second-largest network, will extend GSM to those still using TDMA transmissions and will add GPRS for packet data transmissions. All of Cingular's 22 million customers will have optional GSM/GPRS by the end of 2004. AT&T Wireless, the third-largest U.S. carrier, expects to make GSM/GPRS available to its 17.1 million subscribers by the end of 2002.
Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS, the nation's first and fourth largest carriers, respectively, say they'll get there by incrementally upgrading networks to the 3G standard.
Mike Hogan is Entrepreneur's technology editor. Write him at email@example.com.