T-Mobile expands HSPA+ 42 network to 56 more markets

T-Mobile USA continues to roll out its faster HSPA+ 42 network upgrade, and said it now has HSPA+ 42 coverage in 152 markets nationwide, covering 170 million POPs. The carrier's 56 new HSPA+ 42 markets include Baltimore; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Hartford and New Haven, Conn.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Lancaster, Pa.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Providence, R.I.; and Washington, D.C.

T-Mobile first announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January that it would upgrade its HSPA network to HSPA+ 42 technology. At the time, the carrier said HSPA+ 42 will provide speeds comparable with Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) LTE network, which Verizon advertises as providing real-world downlink speeds of 5-12 Mbps. T-Mobile said in a statement that its upgraded HSPA+ 42 network offers average downlink speeds approaching 10 Mbps, with peak speeds of 27 Mbps. The equipment for T-Mobile's upgrade comes from T-Mobile's existing suppliers, Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Nokia Siemens Networks.

T-Mobile's faster speeds are a result of dual carrier, also called dual cell, technology. The technology uses multiplexing techniques to combine two wireless data carriers into a single carrier. So far, T-Mobile offers only one HSPA+ 42 device, the ZTE-made T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 laptop stick.

A T-Mobile spokesman told FierceWireless that the backhaul the carrier has in place is very scalable. "Today we have Ethernet over Fiber to the vast majority of our cell sites and more than 80 percent of our mobile broadband traffic is running over fiber Ethernet. With the upgrade to 42 Mbps, we move to 50 or 100 Mbps of capacity per site depending on the location," he said. "This upgrade is well underway in the new 42 Mbps markets we announced today."

Interestingly, T-Mobile's HSPA+ 42 upgrade outpaces AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) own HSPA+ network expansion. AT&T, which intends to purchase T-Mobile for $39 billion, plans to launch LTE this summer with a fallback to its HSPA+ 21 network. John Stankey, the president of AT&T's business solutions unit, said in late May that AT&T remains committed to deploying enhanced Ethernet backhaul to two-thirds of its cell sites by year-end, and will exit the second quarter with roughly half of those sites having enhanced backhaul.

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Article update July 13 with comment from T-Mobile about backhaul.