T-Mobile USA reveals more HSPA+ rollout details

LAS VEGAS--In a rare press conference at the CTIA 2010 trade show, T-Mobile USA revealed more details about its HSPA+ buildout plans and touted its new high-speed mobile broadband network advantages over the competition, including Clearwire.

Neville Ray, the carrier's senior vice president of engineering and operations, combated the perceptions that T-Mobile has a weak 3G footprint, indicating that the operator today now covers 206 million POPs in the U.S., which will put it in a top competitive position when it aggressively rolls out HSPA+ via a software upgrade in 2010.

The operator rolled out its first HSPA+ market in Philadelphia and is now poised to light up New York, New Jersey, Long Island, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles in the near term, said Neville. The New York market has sites that are live, he added.

Ray said T-Mobile has 10,000 sites that are fed by fiber and is looking to double that number during 2010. Its expansion of HSPA+ depends on how fast backhaul capabilities are upgraded.

"We're using a whole host of suppliers," he said. "We've been planning this for several years. We're not using one solution nationally but a number of solutions based on what is available in each market."

T-Mobile plans to cover 100 metropolitan areas and 185 million POPs with HSPA+ by the end of 2010. Ray said he expects that half of T-Mobile's HSPA+ footprint will be in place by the middle of this year.

"We have an aggressive program to enhance and deliver HSPA+," Neville said. "No one is coming close to this reach in these timeframes."

While Ray was asked more than once what downlink and uplink speeds users can expect from HSPA+, which theoretically and deliver peak rates of 21 Mbps, he declined to give an exact number, saying that the average performance in Philly is three to five times better than 3G.

He also said network tests in Philly put HSPA+ ahead of WiMAX operator Clearwire and its 3G competitors, but didn't give any numbers to support the claim. He also declined to give speeds achieved in New York. However, he did note that the data stick demos during the show were performing at rates between 10 and 12 Mbps. T-Mobile has coverage of the convention center and the strip.

T-Mobile also unveiled its first netbook at the event, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10. The device will be available beginning March 24 for $199.99 with a two-year data contract.

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