T-Mobile swings for fences with HSPA+

The nation’s fourth-largest carrier may have dragged its feet with 3G in the past but it is trying to make up for it. T-Mobile said it plans to cover 185 million people in its HSPA+ network, and it says this will be better and faster than 4G networks.

This super fast data network is already live in Philadelphia, Las Vegas New York and Washington, D.C. and it will soon be coming to Los Angeles. The HSPA+ network will be coming to over 100 major metropolitan cities by the end of the year and it has a theoretical download limit of 21 Mbps. I played with few devices at the CTIA tradeshow and was impressed by some of the speeds I was seeing. The photo above was a live speed test of its USB HSPA+ modem and it wasn’t even the most impressive one. While the speeds fluctuated, it was still consistently about 3 Mbps.

T-Mobile didn’t mince words: its network will be faster than AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. They’re promising an experience that will be three to five times better than competitors 3G networks. These guys are even saying its network will outdo the competitors’ 4G networks for at least the next few years.

It’s an ambitious move for T-Mobile but also a smart one. Unlike the other players, it hasn’t maxed out its data spectrum because it just recently obtained it. T-Mobile said its upgrade is essentially a software boost that will only cost a few hundred million dollars, compared to the multiple billions it will take to build and deploy WiMax and Long-Term Evolution networks.

What can you do with all this speedy data? Well, T-Mobile is introducing its first netbook tomorrow, and the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 will be powered by Windows 7 and have built-in access to the Magenta carriers mobile data network. We’re also going to see smartphones with HSPA+ later this year and if you’re already on a T-Mobile smartphone, you’ll also experience the speed boost to 7.2 Mbps over the next few months.

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