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Nokia's N95: 2.5G, Not 3G

In my excitement last week about the new $750 Nokia N95, I misspoke when outlining the smartphone's networking capability. Here's what I wrote: "The N95 includes a 5-megapixel camera, a powerful media player, 3G networking over the Cingular/AT&T HSDPA system, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as an innovative dual-slide design." In fact, the N95, while it works over European 3G networks based on WCD
In my excitement last week about the new $750 Nokia N95, I misspoke when outlining the smartphone's networking capability. Here's what I wrote: "The N95 includes a 5-megapixel camera, a powerful media player, 3G networking over the Cingular/AT&T HSDPA system, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as an innovative dual-slide design." In fact, the N95, while it works over European 3G networks based on WCDMA 2100, doesn't run over AT&T's 1900-MHz version of WCDMA. (Thanks to the readers who pointed out this discrepancy.)In my defense, Nokia has been a bit, shall we say, slippery about this distinction, for the simple reason that in this country the best data connection you're going to get out of the pricey N95 is on the EDGE network, which is considered "2.5G," i.e., not much faster than the iPhone.

The reasons for this are fairly clear: Nokia designed the Symbian-based N95 for the European market, which remains ahead of the U.S. when it comes to high-speed mobile networking, and only decided to move up the release in North America when it became convinced there was demand here as well.

Will the world's No. 1 handset maker release a 3G N95 for the U.S. market? Don't hold your breath - there's no indication of that yet. The slowed-down American N95 is yet another example of how the exceptionalist policies of the U.S. carriers, resulting in an alphabet soup of networking technologies not interoperable with Euro-flavors, works against consumers - and why acronym-challenged tech journalists should triple-check their facts before going to press.