LAS VEGAS--T-Mobile USA provided additional details on its planned upgrade to HSPA+ 42 technology, which provides theoretical peak speeds of 42 Mbps and represents a doubling of the speeds provided by the carrier's current HSPA+ 21 network, which supports peak speeds of 21 Mbps.
T-Mobile's CTO Neville Ray said the carrier expects to launch HSPA+ 42 sometime this year, and will cover around 140 million POPs with the technology by year-end. He said T-Mobile currently covers 200 million POPs, spanning 100 markets, with its HSPA+ 21 network. (Ray also said equipment for its upgrade will come from T-Mobile's existing suppliers, Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Nokia Siemens Networks.)
Interestingly, Ray said T-Mobile's HSPA+ 42 network will provide speeds comparable with Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) recently launched LTE network. Ray said T-Mobile has been testing T-Mobile's planned HSPA+ 42 upgrade against Verizon's LTE network here, and he said both networks provided average download speeds of around 8 Mbps.
"There's very little difference" between T-Mobile's HSPA+ 42 and Verizon's LTE, Ray said, adding that T-Mobile won't charge customers an additional fee for access to its planned HSPA+ upgrade. "There will be no 4G tolls or premiums from T-Mobile," Ray said.
Interestingly, Ray said T-Mobile is eyeing an upgrade to the next iteration of HSPA technology--HSPA+ 84, which provides theoretical peak speeds of 84 Mbps--sometime next year, though he said no specific decisions have been made.
When questioned how T-Mobile will advertise its upgrade to HSPA+ 42--a tricky situation considering the carrier already markets its existing HSPA+ 21 network as providing 4G speeds--T-Mobile executives said the carrier won't publicize the upgrade as a different offering from its existing service. Instead, the carrier will focus on advertising the speed of its network, and how it is comparable with speeds provided by rivals.
T-Mobile also provided a few interesting data points on its business and plans for the future. Carrier executives said T-Mobile has shipped 900,000 HSPA+ 21 devices so far, and that it expects to sell a total of 25 4G phone models this year (a figure that will include both HSPA+ 21 and HSPA+ 42). Specifically, T-Mobile said it will sell a USB stick from ZTE in the first half of this year that will access the carrier's planned HSPA+ 42 network.
Executives also said T-Mobile's data traffic has been doubling every seven months, and that the carrier expects to be able to keep pace with demand. Ray added that T-Mobile has Ethernet backhaul to 70 percent of its HSPA+ 21 network.
Finally, T-Mobile announced plans to sell a new tablet, the 7-inch, Android 2.2-powered Dell Streak 7, which will support T-Mobile's HSPA+ 21 network. The tablet will feature a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and offer a front-facing camera that supports Qik video calling functions.
T-Mobile recently announced plans to sell the G-Slate tablet from LG, which runs Android 3.0.
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