T-Mobile Continues Expanding it's HSPA+ Footprint

07/21/2010 07:59 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's no secret that the top four mobile network operators (MNO) -- Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile -- are locked in a heated battle for the title of "fastest network." Much of this hostility has been encouraged by the subscriber. Over the past three years there as been a digital revolution. We are consuming and producing content at an incredible pace. As such we have become accustomed -- to being continuously connected. We connect with our laptops, smartphones, tablets and now superphones. We are placing considerable strain on MNO's network to the tune of 234 million mobile devices.

According to Cisco's Virtual Networking Index:

Mobile data traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 108 percent between 2009 and 2014, reaching 3.6 exabytes per month by 2014.

Companies such as T-Mobile understand the criticality of Cisco's report. As such -- the HSPA+ investment for T-Mobile is the companies single most important asset. When I spoke with Neville Ray -- Chief Network Officer for T-Mobile USA -- he explained that the company is committed to covering more than 185 million people; by the end of calendar 2010. With five months left in the year, T-Mobile now covers more than 85 million Americans on its next generation network.

Ray explains that if you have a 3G capable device - which is about 1/3 of their base - you will have a better experience when on the HSPA+ network. T-Mobile has 16 3G devices that can benefit from enhanced speeds when using the HSPA+ network, including more than a dozen smartphones.

I decided to test Ray's claim and see for myself how the HSPA+ network behaves in NYC. I tested the T-Mobile Vibrant -- then for the sake of comparison I also tested the AT&T Captivate.

T-Mobile Vibrant -- (using Speed Test)

  • 1704 Kbp/s download
  • 1005 Kbp/s upload
AT&T Captivate -- (using Speed Test)
  • 1138 Kbp/s download
  • 123 Kbp/s upload
I can honestly say that my overall experience was better on the T-Mobile network.

Ray also explained that there will be a HSPA+ handset coming out late this summer. Some have speculated that HTC will be the OEM. We will see a significant increase in speed from a HSPA+ handset. In the absence of a HSPA+ handset -- Kevin C. Tofel (editor of jkOnTheRun) tested T-Mobile's webConnect Rocket USB Laptop Stick (HSPA+ native) and the results were impressive - 9.11 Mbp/s download and 2.73 Mbp/s upload.

Due to its great success -- T-Mobile is introducing the webConnect Rocket 2.0 USB Laptop Stick, an updated form factor of its first HSPA+ capable device. It features a new rotating swivel USB form factor. The webConnect Rocket 2.0 will still deliver the same home broadband experience as its predecessor.

As of July 21st, T-Mobile USA has pushed HSPA+ to 24 more cities:

  1. Austin, TX
  2. El Paso, TX
  3. Fort Worth, TX
  4. San Antonio, TX
  5. Waco, TX
  6. Baltimore, MD
  7. Baton Rouge, LA
  8. Lafayette, LA
  9. Birmingham, AL
  10. Cincinnati, OH
  11. Cleveland, OH
  12. Columbus, OH
  13. Dayton OH
  14. Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  15. Jacksonville, FL
  16. Greenville, SC
  17. Honolulu, HI
  18. Indianapolis, IN
  19. Kansas City, MO
  20. Milwaukee, WI
  21. Minneapolis, MN
  22. Portland, OR
  23. St. Louis, MO
  24. Wichita, KS
T-Mobile network service is currently available in the following major metropolitan areas: Albany, N.Y.; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Baton Rouge, La.; Birmingham, Ala.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, OH; Dallas/Ft. Worth; Dayton, Ohio; El Paso, Texas; Fayetteville, N.C.; Ft Lauderdale, Fla.; Greensboro, N.C.; Greenville, S.C.; Hartford, Conn.; Honolulu; Houston; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tenn.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Minneapolis, Minn.; New Orleans, La.; New York; Oklahoma City; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Providence, R.I.; Rochester, N.Y.; San Antonio; Seattle; St. Louis, Mo; Syracuse, N.Y.; Tampa, Fla.; Tulsa, Okla.; Waco, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Wichita, Kan. The HSPA+ network expansion is on track to reach 100 metro areas by year end.

It's fair to say the a HSPA+ device on a HSPA+ network may usher in a host of new wireless broadband applications and most certainly a rush of HSPA+ handsets. I wonder how the landscape will continue to shape itself - on Monday, July 19 we received word that Verizon is on schedule with its LTE rollout. Whatever the final outcome will be it's fair to say that T-Mobile is one of the most robust networks in the country.