New iPad Can Be Speedy Without 4G

The big connectivity news around the latest Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad is that it has 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) in the device. But upgraded 3G could also mean a nice boost of speed for many users in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan.

The latest iPad supports both high-speed packet access-plus (HSPA+) and dual-cell high-speed packet downlink access (DC-HSPDA) technology. These upgraded 3G options will be the default or fall-back options for many carriers lacking or limited in 4G LTE coverage.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) users will appreciate the upgrade to HSPA+ with its average 5Mbit/s to 8Mbit/s download peaks in the many parts of the country where Ma Bell doesn't yet have LTE. The iPad 2 tapped out at about 1.5 Mbit/s on average 3G downloads. (See Mapping LTE: AT&T & Verizon's 4G Footprints.)

Outside the U.S., a new wrinkle on HSPA 3G technology is being deployed. DC-HSPDA, in simple terms, involves bonding or aggregating two adjacent channels -- often 5MHz wide -- to double the capacity of a data connection to an end user.

The technique doesn't add additional capacity to the cell. It multiplexes the existing capacity to cope with bursty data traffic -- in other words, it optimizes that capacity to meet subscriber bandwidth needs. (See MWC 2010: Dual-Carrier Duel.)

Apple says that its dual-cell upgrade can support maximum speeds of 42 Mbit/s. Users will see far less speed, however, in the real world, more likely in the 10Mbit/s or less range. (See Telefónica Cranks 3G to 42 Mbit/s.)

Carriers around the world, from Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) in Spain, Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) in Australia and EMobile Ltd. in Japan have deployed -- or are in the process of deploying -- such upgrades. (See Emobile Preps HSPA+ Launch.)

What about T-Mobile?
It is not clear, however, if T-Mobile US Inc. could potentially support the iPad over its 42Mbit/s upgrade, which is marketed as a "4G" service. The technical specs suggest that the AT&T model may support LTE in the advanced wireless spectrum (AWS) band that T-Mobile also uses.

"Today, we offer several Android-powered, 4G tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the T-Mobile SpringBoard with Google," a T-Mobile spokeswoman wrote in reply to our question about this. "T-Mobile customers can also connect Wi-Fi only tablets (including iPads) to our fastest 4G speeds using the T-Mobile Sonic 4G Mobile Hotspot."

So that clears things right up.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

gtchavan 12/5/2012 | 5:40:08 PM
re: New iPad Can Be Speedy Without 4G

ATT is in serious trouble because they don't have hardly any 4G coverage and Verizon will have so many people flocking to it that its network will likely be strained to its limits.  i bougth a Verizon version today and I can not wait to get my hands on it.  I like the hot spot feature and that is goign to drive the data demand even more. I love to particiapte in a small way in the collapse of Verizon's network.  It is going to be a great year for network equipment providers and the price of networkign equipment just went up.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:40:07 PM
re: New iPad Can Be Speedy Without 4G

Well, people can always do Wi-Fi in range. 802.11n is still going to be faster than LTE.

gtchavan 12/5/2012 | 5:40:06 PM
re: New iPad Can Be Speedy Without 4G

I persoanlly consider wifi a tethered connection.  I like to be free to roam and explore the world with my ipad 3 and if it breaks down the verizon's network that is their problem.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:40:03 PM
re: New iPad Can Be Speedy Without 4G

Apparently they had no trouble breaking their LTE network without the iPad.

joanengebretson 12/5/2012 | 5:40:01 PM
re: New iPad Can Be Speedy Without 4G

I chuckled at your comment about your response from T-Mobile. It seems to be a habit of PR people everywhere to never to say "no" to questions like the one you asked.

I guess the thinking is that if they said "no" and then told you about WiFi and other tablets you might not report the part about WiFi & other tablets since you've presumably covered that before.


joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:40:01 PM
re: New iPad Can Be Speedy Without 4G

Honestly, there's so many layers of PR between the big carriers and the press its difficult to figure out who will know what when you're looking for comment/clarification. But yeah their business is to answer questions without giving meaningful information, it often seems.

Sign In