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Nexus One poised for iPhone's American 3G

Googlephone and Jesus Phone collide

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Google is on the verge of releasing a version of its Nexus One handset that will run on AT&T's 3G network.

Unveiled in early January, the Googlephone is a GSM-based device, and it's sold unlocked from Mountain View's very own online store. But the inaugural version does not work with the 3G network run by AT&T, the largest GSM-based provider in the US. If you want to use the phone with AT&T, you'll have to slum it on the company's 2.5G Edge network.

AT&T is the exclusive US network provider for the Apple iPhone, so at the moment the Googlephone and the Jesus Phone do not operate on the same 3G network.

But documents recently filed with the US Federal Communications Commission indicate that Google and hardware manufacturer HTC are preparing a version that supports the WCDMA bands I, II, and V. Band V - at 850MHz - is the 3G frequency used not only by AT&T but also Canadian wireless providers Rogers, Bell Canada, and Telus Mobility.

The documents describe a phone tested for Bands I, II, and V that has a FCC ID nearly identical - but slightly different from - the Nexus One's.

When asked for comment, Google originally declined. But a spokeswoman has now provided the following statement: "At this point we don't have any comments about specific new products or launches. More generally, our strategy continues to be to grow our new consumer channel through the addition of more phones, operator partners, and countries."

The inaugural Nexus One supports four GSM frequencies - 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, and 1900MHz - so it will work with practically any GSM-based SIM card worldwide. And it supports a trio of 3G/UMTS bands: 2100MHz, AWS, and 900MHz. That means it can tap the 3G networks operated by most major GSM carriers across the globe, but it can't handle AT&T's 850-MHz band.

Nor does the Nexus One play with CDMA-based networks from the likes of Sprint and Verizon in the US. But Google has committed to producing a CDMA model, saying it's due this spring. This model will not work with GSM networks.

Judging from the FCC filings, it appears that the UMTS Band V-enabled Nexus One will continue to support the Band I frequency, 2100MHz, used by the major 3G networks across Europe. But it will not support the Band IV frequency used by T-Mobile. ®

Update: This story has been updated with comment from Google, and it has been corrected to properly show what frequencies and carriers are apparently supported by the upcoming version of the Nexus One.

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