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T-Mobile Steps Up HSPA+ in Philly

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

T-Mobile US Inc. is launching its first HSPA+ USB modem in Philadelphia this weekend with an updated set of data plans but isn't yet announcing new markets for its faster 3G upgrade.

The fourth-largest carrier in the US will sell its "webConnect Rocket USB Laptop Stick" for $99.99 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile is the first -- and so far only -- US carrier to launch a High Speed Packet Access Plus (HSPA+) 3G upgrade plan in the US. The technology should increase network download speeds to a maximum of 21 Mbit/s, which should translate to average downlinks of 5 to 10 Mbit/s when a subscriber is stationary. (See MWC 2010: T-Mob's 3G Speed Race.)

The carrier is charging $59.99 for a maximum 5GB of downloads a month for those on contract, or $29.99 with a 200MB limit, under its "Even More" data plan. If users buy the USB stick outright with no annual contract, the "Even More Plus" plan lops $10 off the monthly data costs. The operator says that unlimited nationwide T-Mobile HotSpot access is included in both plans and doesn't count toward monthly data usage

T-Mobile isn't yet saying where it will launch HSPA+ next but is expecting to have 90 percent of its 3G footprint using the faster technology by the end of the year with market launches on both coasts before that. "You'll see a significant rollout in the first half of this year," T-Mobile USA's senior VP of engineering operations Neville Ray told LR Mobile in February. (See MWC 2010: T-Mobile Boosts Backhaul.)

Ray said that the operator has been working with "independent providers" to ensure fiber or microwave backhaul capacity is in place before it switches on HSPA+. The carrier last announced backhaul agreements for 3G back in September 2008. Nonetheless, those contracts may provide some clues as to where T-Mobile will go next. They include:

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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