T-Mobile USA could try and eke more data download speed out of its current network even as it plans to move to 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) in 2013.
The fourth-ranked U.S. operator is currently deploying a 42Mbit/s high-speed packet access-plus (HSPA+) upgrade across its network. Recently, management announced plans to deploy LTE -- an upgrade that could (in theory, but probably not in real life) deliver up to 72Mbit/s downloads -- across its network starting next year. (See Where Will T-Mobile Bring LTE First?)
T-Mobile had previously said that it would abandon the 84Mbit/s boost to move directly to LTE. Now, however, CTO Neville Ray says that another boost of HSPA+ speed could potentially coexist with its LTE plans. (See T-Mobile Execs Plan LTE-Powered Revival .)
"The evolution of HSPA+ is still an opportunity for us and offering HSPA+ 84 (84Mbps theoretical download speeds) is something we'll continue to evaluate because the capability is there in the network," Ray writes in the company blog. "That said, our priority now is preparing our network for LTE in 2013. But, in the long run, I would like to see both technologies advance."
The operator has just expanded its 42Mbit/s markets and claims to run "America's Largest 4G Network, reaching well over 200 million people in 225 markets with HSPA+." The new coverage areas are Abilene, Amarillo, Odessa and Victoria, Texas; Bakersfield, Calif.; Eau Claire, Wisc.; Joplin and St. Joseph, Mo.
T-Mobile is just about to start selling smartphones that can take advantage of the 42Mbit/s updates. The Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Blaze 4G will be available on March 21, and the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) One S uber-camera phone is "coming soon."
T-Mobile's eventual plan is to get HSPA users off the advanced wireless service (AWS) (1700/2100MHz) and onto the 1900MHz band. Ray also confirmed in the blog that this will make it easier for T-Mobile to support the iPhone.
â€” Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile