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T-Mobile Readies 3.5 G Broadband Upgrade

HSPA+ will compete with LTE and mobile WiMax, 4G technologies being deployed by Verizon Wireless and Sprint, respectively, analyst says.
T-Mobile plans to roll out this year a major upgrade of its 3G network that is expected to deliver significantly faster speeds to subscribers.

T-Mobile on Wednesday demonstrated a Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook running on its upcoming 3.5 G broadband technology, called HSPA+. The carrier showcased the technology at the CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas, Nev.

T-Mobile expects to deploy HSPA+ across its current HSPA 3G network by the end of the year. The carrier's network covers more than 100 metropolitan areas that are home to 185 million people.

In the lab, HSPA+ reaches peak download speeds of 56 megabits per second, and peak upload speeds of 22 Mb per second. However, the actual speed experienced on a carrier's network would be much lower, depending on traffic congestion and other factors. The same inconsistency exists for all other high-speed wireless technologies.

Nevertheless, HSPA+ would be peppier than T-Mobile's current technology. HSPA and HSPA+ have become the dominant global mobile broadband technologies, according to the GSM Association, a mobile trade association. By the end of this year, HSPA connections are expected to reach more than 340 million.

HSPA+ is compatible with devices running HSPA, so network upgrades do not require mobile subscribers to buy new devices. ABI Research believes HSPA+ will compete with LTE and mobile WiMax, 4G technologies being deployed in the United States by Verizon Wireless and Sprint, respectively.

The Dell Mini 10 used by T-Mobile at the CTIA demo will be the first netbook offered by the carrier. The mini-laptop is scheduled to be available online Thursday and in T-Mobile stores in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Miami. The system will cost $200 with a two-year data plan.

The Mini 10 has a 10-inch display, runs Windows 7 and is powered by an Intel Atom processor. T-Mobile showcased the system running on an HSPA+ network using the carrier's WebConnect Rocket USB Laptop Stick modem. T-Mobile also demonstrated HTC and Motorola mobile phones running on HSPA+, along with the carrier's MyTouch 3G phone.