Although T-Mobile won't be switching to LTE anytime soon, it is certainly getting its money's worth from its HSPA+ network.
The carrier is spreading out its latest HSPA+ upgrade to 42 new markets today, including Cleveland, Ohio; Salt Lake City; San Antonio, Texas, and San Diego, Calif. The upgrade effectively doubles the theoretical peak speeds on the network from 21Mbps to 42Mbps, although T-Mobile says that users can expect average speeds of 10Mbps when they use a T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 laptop dongle to connect to the network.
T-Mobile first started upgrading portions of its HSPA+ network last month when it announced that 50 markets were getting the enhanced HSPA+ services. The upgrades have coincided with T-Mobile's decision to start implementing bandwidth caps for its HSPA+ wireless services, where users are allowed to consume a set amount of data on the HSPA+ network per month before being bumped down to T-Mobile's slower 2G EDGE network. Unlike the data caps for 4G services used by AT&T and Verizon, however, T-Mobile does not charge overage fees to users who go over their monthly limit.
T-Mobile has still made no mention of when it will eventually switch over from its HSPA+ network to the LTE standard currently used by Verizon. AT&T, which earlier this year reached an agreement to purchase T-Mobile for $39 billion, also runs an HSPA+ network and has also announced that it will begin launching LTE services commercially this summer.
LTE is essentially a bridge from 3G technologies such as HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev. A to the 4G IMT-Advanced technologies that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has in mind. As far as speeds go, initial tests of the LTE network showed data downloads frequently topping 10Mbps in most major markets, although these tests were run when the network just started and didn't have much congestion to deal with.
A test conducted by PC World this year showed that Verizon's LTE laptop air cards provided average download speeds of 6.5Mbps and average upload speeds of 5Mbps. Verizon became the first major U.S. carrier to deploy LTE last year when it launched the technology in 38 major markets covering roughly one-third of the U.S. population. The carrier plans to have its entire current 3G footprint upgraded to LTE by the end of 2013.
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