T-Mobile USA will turn on HSPA+ services in its 1900 MHz PCS spectrum at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, allowing unlocked iPhones to take advantage of faster speeds during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference next week.
T-Mobile has traditionally used the AWS band (1.7/2.1 GHz) to provide HSPA data service and the PCS band (1.9 GHz) to provide voice. But the iPhone doesn’t do AWS.
AT&T’s iPhone, for example, doesn’t use AWS frequencies, while Verizon hasn’t activated any of their AWS frequencies. Instead, AT&T uses their PCS band for HSPA and their 700 MHz frequencies for LTE. Verizon has a similar spectrum arrangement. New chips from Qualcomm will allow more flexible use of LTE spectrum.
“As part of the company’s previously announced $4 billion network modernization effort, T-Mobile plans to launch 4G HSPA+ service in the 1900 MHz band in a large number of markets by the end of the year, which will make our 4G network compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone,” the company told 9to5Mac.
T-Mobile is “re-farming spectrum” it received from the botched AT&T merger:
“We are also going to make more effective use of the spectrum we already have by refarming a portion of our 1900 MHz PCS spectrum to support HSPA+ services, which frees up additional AWS spectrum for LTE. T-Mobile will have sufficient spectrum to roll out LTE with 20MHz to about 75% of the top 25 markets in 2013. Most remaining markets will have 10MHz. Our course, we’d love to have more spectrum to further strengthen our position to compete in the marketplace.”
T-Mobile says it will invest $4 billion in network modernization and LTE deployment. They expect to reach broad deployment of LTE in the AWS band, with service in the vast majority of the top 50 markets and 20 MHz service in 75 percent of the top 25 markets.
T-Mobile’s current HSPA+ network covers more than 220 million people in 229 markets, allowing the company to claim the largest “4G” network in the country. T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network bonds two 5 MHz-by-5 MHz HSPA+ carriers (21Mbps each) together, but the iPhone 4s is limited to plain vanilla HSPA at 14.4 Kbps.