T-Mobile expands iPhone-compatible 4G service, unveils HD voice

The company is accelerating its LTE deployment with a target of covering 100 million people by the middle of the year.

Cell towers from an unknown service provider being installed on the roof of a building in downtown San Francisco.
Cell towers from an unknown service provider being installed on the roof of a building in downtown San Francisco. James Martin/CNET

T-Mobile USA said today that it had enhanced its coverage in several cities, allowing unlocked iPhones to tap into the network's highest speeds.

The carrier said it has built out its HSPA+ network in four cities -- Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, and Virginia Beach, Va. -- utilizing the 1900MHz spectrum. That's important because the iPhone is compatible with 1900MHz, but not the other frequencies that T-Mobile uses.

In total, T-Mobile's 1900MHz footprint covers 46 metro area and about 126 million people.

T-Mobile also fast-tracked the carrier's 4G LTE plans and plans to cover 100 million people by the middle of the year, and 200 million people by the end of 2013. T-Mobile will be able to launch in Las Vegas within a few weeks, Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray told CNET.

T-Mobile is behind its larger peers when it comes to 4G LTE. Verizon Wireless is the undisputed leader, but AT&T and Sprint Nextel are slowly catching up. The company has touted its own HSPA+ network as a comparable alternative 4G service.

The carrier also said that HD Voice is available on its network. Sprint Nextel was the first to hype up HD Voice with Evo 4G LTE last summer, but has been relatively quiet since then. T-Mobile said that it will be the first with true nationwide coverage, with HD Voice running across its HSPA+ network on three compatible smartphones: the Samsung Galaxy S III, Nokia Astound, and HTC One S.

HD Voice provides a clearer sound, adding nuance and reducing background noise for a better phone call experience. T-Mobile is rolling it out here now after its parent, Deutsche Telekom, offered it in Europe a few years ago. It only works when both phones have HD Voice.

With three phones already compatible, Ray said that mid- and upper-tier phones will have the capability. Pretty soon, "it will be a de-facto feature on phones."

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