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SPRINT and T-Mobile (formerly Voicestream) covers most of the cities. And was able to use it outside of the major metro on the highways.
Out West -(past Kansas), the coverage is quite a bit less. I had no service from outside Denver until I got near Topeka. Then blank outside KC to STL Metro.
Don't forget that Europe has two GSM standards: GSM 900 (on 900MHz) and GSM 1800 (aka PCN 1800) (on 1800MHz), whilst the US version of GSM is on 1900MHz - an important point for the traveller!
In Europe, two data add-ons for GSM exist, dubbed 2.5G (where Analog was 1G, plain GSM is 2G, and 3G is released next year). These 2.5G improvements are HSCSD and GPRS. There is also the forthcoming EDGE technologies, but Europe *may* leap straight to 3G instead.