T-Mobile USA upgrades more cities to faster 3G

T-Mobile USA is adding more HSPA+ markets and says it now can offer the faster 3G wireless service to 30 million potential customers.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

T-Mobile USA said Tuesday that it has added several new cities to a growing list that can get the company's upgraded 3G network.

The upgraded network, which uses a version of the 3G technology called HSPA+ triples download speeds. The service has been deployed in densely populated markets in the Northeast, including New York City; parts of New Jersey; New York state; Connecticut; and Providence, R.I. It also added service in Memphis, Tenn., and Las Vegas. T-Mobile had already been offering the service in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

With these new markets, T-Mobile is now able to offer the service to more than 30 million people, the company said. By the end of the year, it plans to offer the service to more than 185 million people in over 100 metropolitan markets.

At the CTIA wireless trade show in March, T-Mobile executives outlined the company's network upgrade plans to HSPA+. T-Mobile has admitted that it got into the 3G wireless market late. But executives have said that the current upgrades to their network will offer faster speeds to more consumers than even new 4G wireless networks being built by Verizon Wireless and Clearwire, which is partnering with Sprint Nextel.

As of March, T-Mobile's 3G network could reach about 206 million people in the U.S. Last year, the company completed a network upgrade that brought HSPA 7.2 technology to its entire 3G footprint. In addition to adding more backhaul capacity, T-Mobile has also been upgrading to HSPA+. This technology, which offers a theoretical download speed of 21 megabits per second, is about three times faster than the theoretical speed of 7.2Mbps on the older version of HSPA technology.

As T-Mobile boosts the speed of its wireless network, competitors are doing the same. Clearwire, which is partnering with Sprint Nextel to build a nationwide wireless broadband network using a technology called WiMax, has been adding new markets and expects to cover 120 million potential customers by the end of the year with its 4G wireless service.

Verizon Wireless, which is building a 4G network using LTE technology, has been testing its network in Boston. It's expected to cover 100 million potential customers by the end of the year in about 30 markets. The company recently released video of speed tests for its LTE network in Boston. Downlink speeds topped out at about 8.5Mbps and upload speeds were about 2.8Mbps.

Meanwhile, AT&T, which has built its 3G with HSPA technology, said last week that it plans to upgrade its current generation of technology to the 14.4Mbps version of HSPA+. The company eventually plans to upgrade its network to LTE, a 4G wireless technology.