updated 05:55 pm EDT, Fri September 18, 2009
T-Mobile HSPA plus now live
T-Mobile on Friday said it has started rolling out the first 3G network in the US to support HSPA+. Currently active through about 20 cell sites in Philadelphia, the new network gives T-Mobile the fastest mobile Internet in the country with peak downloads of 21Mbps and uploads as high as 5.76Mbps. While actual speeds are likely to be much lower, the service is about three times faster than AT&T's newly unveiled 7.2Mbps network plans.
The launch is a surprise early start for T-Mobile, which had initially promised service in 2010, although it doesn't include mention of adapters or cellphones. While the upgrade can be applied to cell sites in software, according to T-Mobile senior engineering VP Neville Ray, few devices of any kind recognize the added bandwidth.
A number of carriers have already launched HSPA+ 3G, including a multi-city Rogers launch in Canada. However, AT&T has publicly stated that it plans to skip the service in favor of jumping to 4G and will top out at 7.2Mbps until commercial 4G service is active in 2011. T-Mobile plans to introduce 4G in a similar timeframe.
The company was the last major US carrier to adopt 3G and didn't activate it in earnest until 2008 but has been relatively quick to expand its network.