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T-Mobile Expands HSPA+ Mobile Network

The 3.5G service is available in 25 markets; carrier says it will cover 185 million people in 100 metro areas by year's end.

An additional 18 markets will now have access to T-Mobile's 3.5G network with HSPA+ speeds of up to 21 Mbps, bring the total number of markets to 25, the carrier announced Wednesday.

The new HSPA+ markets launched include: Los Angeles; Dallas; Houston; Atlanta; Seattle; Tampa and Orlando, Fla.; Pittsburgh; Charlotte, Greensboro, Fayetteville, and Winston-Salem, N.C.; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; New Orleans; Anderson and Charleston, S.C.; and Bentonville, Ark.

The number-four U.S. mobile carrier said it plans to cover 75 million people by the end of June and 185 million people in 100 major metropolitan areas by the end of the year, said Chris Hillabrant, VP for engineering and operations, in a statement.

As of May, the HSPA+ service was available was available in the New York City metropolitan area, including New Jersey and Long Island, as well as upstate New York (Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse); Connecticut (Hartford, New Haven, Milford, and Stamford); Providence, R.I.; Memphis, Tenn.; Las Vegas; Philadelphia; and the Washington, D.C., suburbs, the company said.

While it has promoted HSPA+ as a 4G technology, competitors have disputed that claim as misleading. AT&T has said it will cover 250 million people by the end of the year with HSPA+. Sprint is using Clearwire's WiMax network and marketing its mobile broadband services as Sprint 4G. Verizon, too, is building an LTE network that it is touting as 4G.

The upgrade reduces the company's cost per megabyte, so there are no plans presently to charge extra for the increased speeds, said Hillabrant.

T-Mobile now has 15 devices that take advantage of the faster HSPA+ network, with the launch Wednesday of the T-Mobile WebConnect Rocket USB Laptop Stick, and introduction earlier this month of the myTouch 3G Slide device, although only one supports the maximum throughput.

"T-Mobile has not just completed the necessary software upgrades in these markets, we are ahead of the curve in terms of putting the necessary backhaul in place in these new locations,'' said a T-Mobile spokesperson. "Today we have Fiber Ethernet transport in place at the majority of our 3G cell sites in each location."

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