T-Mobile takes on LTE with HSPA+ 42 Mbps launch in 55 markets

T-Mobile USA announced it will launch HSPA+ 42 Mbps speeds in 55 markets across the United States, including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Phoenix and elsewhere.

T-Mobile laptop stick ZTE HSPA 42 mbps

T-Mobile said it will sell the T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 laptop stick starting May 25.

The launch essentially doubles the speeds provided by T-Mobile's current HSPA+ 21 Mbps network, though the carrier said it will continue to brand the offering as a 4G service.

T-Mobile 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) recently launched LTE network. T-Mobile said it tested T-Mobile's planned HSPA+ 42 upgrade against Verizon's LTE network in Las Vegas, and found both networks provided average download speeds of around 8 Mbps.

To support the HSPA+ 42 launch, T-Mobile said it will begin selling its first 42 Mbps-capable product, the T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 laptop stick, starting May 25. Built by ZTE, the stick will sell for $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a qualifying mobile broadband plan (2 GB or higher) on a two year service agreement, with voice line and enrollment in Easy Pay. Customers can also purchase the T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 without a contract for $199.99.

Earlier this year, T-Mobile's CTO Neville Ray said the carrier expects to cover around 140 million POPs with HSPA+ 42 network technology by year-end.

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) announced in March its plans to acquire T-Mobile--an action that could scramble T-Mobile's network upgrade progress. AT&T has said if the deal goes through, it would work to move customers off of T-Mobile's UMTS service, which currently runs on its 1700 MHz AWS spectrum, and onto AT&T's 1900 MHz spectrum. AT&T will then run its LTE service over its 700 MHz spectrum and over AWS spectrum. In other words, T-Mobile customers with 3G handsets will eventually have to purchase new devices that work with AT&T's frequencies.

AT&T and T-Mobile expect the transaction to close sometime early next year.

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