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T-Mobile USA expands fast 3G network

T-Mobile USA has added 25 more cities to its roster of HSPA+ enabled cities. These cities will now get the faster generation of 3G technology.

T-Mobile USA on Wednesday announced 25 new cities that will get its fastest 3G wireless service using a technology called HSPA+.

Some of the new markets getting the speedier technology include Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans. T-Mobile has already deployed the technology in nine other metropolitan areas, including New York, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia.

T-Mobile claims the souped-up 3G technology can deliver speeds comparable to 4G wireless networks. The new HSPA+ offers theoretical download speeds of 21Mbps. Actual speeds are around 5Mbps to 8Mbps downloads with peak rates of about 10Mbps or higher, a company representative said.

Currently, Sprint Nextel, through its partnership with Clearwire, is the only major U.S. wireless carrier offering 4G wireless service using a technology called WiMax. Verizon Wireless is building its 4G network using a technology called LTE. AT&T is also upgrading its network to HSPA+. It will begin deployments in the second half of this year.

Currently, the new HSPA+ network that T-Mobile is deploying only works with a handful of devices, specifically data sticks that fit into laptops. The company doesn't yet have any handsets that can use the HSPA+ network.

That said, T-Mobile executives claim the network upgrade (particularly fiber links added to its backhaul, which is in place to ensure enough capacity for HSPA+) is also helping to boost capacity for existing 3G cell phones. This means that a handful of 3G phones, such as HTC's MyTouch, MyTouch Slide and G1, Motorola's Cliq, and Google's Nexus One, could see a speed boost in HSPA+ markets.

Meanwhile, Sprint Nextel recently introduced its 4G phone, the Google Android HTC Evo. It plans to add at least one more 4G to its lineup later this year.

T-Mobile says that the HSPA+ network will cover 75 million potential customers by the end of June. The goal by the end of the year is to be in 100 markets that covers 185 million potential customers with HSPA+.