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11/11/2009
03:11 PM
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T-Mobile Lays Out 3G Plans

The mobile operator plans to boost its 3G network performance to support 21 Mbps downlink speeds.

T-Mobile has laid out aggressive plans to roll out and improve its 3G network to better compete against rivals AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon Wireless.

The nation's fourth-largest carrier has lagged behind its rivals with 3G services, as it just began rolling out its high-speed mobile broadband network last year. The company appears to be making up for lost time though, as it said it will have a 3G network that covers 200 million people by the end of the year.

These areas will include most major markets, and the carrier will be upgrading its entire network to 7.2 Mbps downstream by the end of the year. Devices like the T-Mobile G1, Motorola Cliq, Dash 3G, and other smartphones and USB modems will be able to take advantage of these boosted speeds.

By contrast, rival AT&T announced plans to upgrade its 3G network to 7.2 Mbps, but the upgrade will not be completed until 2011. Sprint and Verizon are already eyeing the next generation of mobile broadband, as Sprint is rolling out 4G networks with WiMax, and Verizon has laid out plans to offer mobile broadband based on Long-Term Evolution.

To counter these moves, T-Mobile plans to upgrade its network to HSPA+ to provide 21 Mbps downstream. The service is already deployed in Philadelphia, and it plans to expand this broadly in the middle of next year. While LTE has a higher theoretical downstream speed, HSPA+ isn't as expensive to deploy because it doesn't require new base stations.

The aggressive rollout of high-speed data networks could help the carrier attract more data-hungry customers. The mobile operator reported a net loss of 77,000 subscribers last quarter, but it did report an 18% year-over-year increase in mobile data service revenue.


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