Battle erupts over T-Mobile's 'largest 4G network' claims

In conjunction with the launch of six new HSPA+ markets, T-Mobile has designated its network as "America's largest 4G network"--a move that has sparked criticism from competitor Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S).

T-Mobile’s myTouch 4G supports the carrier’s new HSPA+ network.Sprint 4G President Matt Carter responded to T-Mobile's claims by saying: "Halloween is over--it's time for T-Mobile to stop dressing up like their favorite super hero--Sprint 4G." Sprint, of course, has been trumpeting its 4G mobile broadband service, which it calls Sprint 4G, for the past two years. The company offers the service via Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network.

Clearwire, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) declined to comment on T-Mobile's claims.

T-Mobile's new HSPA+ markets--which include Chicago; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Louisville, Ky.; and Raleigh-Durham and Wilmington, N.C.--bring T-Mobile's total HSPA+ coverage to 75 major markets.

T-Mobile's Senior Director of Engineering and Operations Mark McDiarmid explained that the company decided to market HSPA+ as 4G because T-Mobile believes the service "clearly meets or exceeds the competitive offerings." McDiarmid added that T-Mobile has conducted extensive testing of its network, devices and backhaul against competitors.

T-Mobile's designation of HSPA+ as a 4G technology feeds into the debate over whether 4G is purely an industry marketing term or an official industry standard as designated by the International Telecommunications Union. Last month, the ITU considered six candidate submissions for the official title of "4G," and harmonized them into two technologies--LTE-Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced, otherwise known as WiMAX's 802.16m technology. This means that none of today's flavors of WiMAX or LTE--which are being deployed by Clearwire, AT&T, Verizon and MetroPCS under the 4G moniker--actually qualify for the 4G designation.

T-Mobile rips into AT&T with new myTouch 4G ad.McDiarmid also confirmed that T-Mobile USA plans to aggressively migrate its network to HSPA+ 42 next year--a move that will double the speeds of its existing HSPA+ network.

In an interview with Reuters, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said that while the nation's No. 4 wireless operator does plan to support LTE eventually, it is in "no rush" to do so because it will take years for the new technology to work well. In fact, Ray said that his biggest concern with LTE is the availability of viable phones, as he sees early devices having problems including weak battery life and heat issues.

T-Mobile plans to promote its myTouch 4G device, which uses the HSPA+ network, as its featured device for the holiday season. The myTouch 4G will retail for $199.99 (after a $50 mail-in rebate) with a two-year service agreement. The device will appear in T-Mobile's nationwide ad campaign.

T-Mobile is advertising the myTouch 4G's video calling functions, which rely on technology from Qik. Sprint's Evo 4G also uses video calling technology from Qik.

In addition, T-Mobile also unveiled the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 4G netbook, which is T-Mobile's first netbook with built-in HSPA+ capability. The netbook will retail for $229.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and a two-year agreement.

For more:
- see this release
- see this MobileBurn article
- see this Reuters article

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