T-Mobile announced today that they have doubled their HSPA+ network speed from a theoretical 21 Mbps to 42 Mbps in 55 markets. In addition, they announced the T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 USB stick that supports the faster data network speeds.
T-Mobile’s broadband plans start at $29.99 for 200 MB up to $84.99 for 10 GB and customers with a voice line of service receive a 20% discount. You can also buy the Rocket 3.0 without a contract for $199.99.
A new phone capable of 42 Mbps will be released “before the end of the year,” said Eric Schlumpf, T-Mobile’s vice president and general manager for the Pacific Northwest. Its current phones capable of 21 Mbps include the Galaxy S 4G, MyTouch 4G, G2, Sidekick and G2X, along with the upcoming Sensation and BlackBerry Bold 9900.
After 21-Mbit/s HSPA+ on the 3G upgrade path, operators can either deploy multiple input/multiple output (MIMO) antennas to boost data speeds up to 28 Mbit/s or implement dual-carrier HSPA+ to double available capacity to 42 Mbit/s. Heavy Reading says dual-carrier is what T-Mobile is implementing. It’s “cheaper and easier” than deploying MIMO, which is why most operators are heading for dual-carrier as they look to increase available capacity on their existing 3G networks.
AT&T hopes to combine T-Mobile’s AWS frequencies (1.7/2.1 GHz) with their 700 MHz LTE network. The 700 MHz band would, of course, likely travel 2-3 times further that the AWS half, leading to dropped data calls.
Telefónica was among the first operator to upgrade from 21-Mbit/s HSPA+ to dual-cell HSPA+, which enables peak data rates of 42 Mbit/s. Other operators that have fired up dual-cell HSPA+ include Sweden’s Hi3G Access AB, Hong Kong CSL, Telstra in Australia, and Telus Mobility in Canada. (See Light Reading: MWC 2010: Dual-Carrier Duel, and T-Mobile USA Promises 42-Mbit/s 3G in 2011.