Eighty percent of AT&T’s network now has HSPA+

When asked earlier this year about its 4G or LTE efforts, AT&T said that it would first focus on building out its HSPA+ network, or its fastest high-speed broadband option. So far it seems to have paid off as I’m seeing up to 5Mbps download speeds in certain cities. It’s not too shabby when I’ll regularly see 4-7Mbps on Sprint’s WiMax network and T-Mobile’s own HSPA+ network, which has a theoretical top speed of 21Mbps.

AT&T says that 80% of its network now has HSPA+ coverage, so most users with higher end 3G devices should be enjoying some faster data speeds with more ubiquity. Again, on my iPhone 4 I’ll regularly see  3-5Mbps, which is more than good enough for most applications and uses.

So, given its coverage percentage now, what does this mean for AT&T and its HSPA+ competitor, T-Mobile, who claims to have “America’s largest 4G network”?

In addition to adding faster HSPA+ radio technology, AT&T has been upgrading fiber backhaul links to its cell sites, Donovan said. The carrier’s 80 percent figure is notable because T-Mobile USA has been rolling out HSPA+ on its network and marketing the service as “4G”–something AT&T has taken exception to.

T-Mobile plans to cover 100 markets and 200 million POPs with HSPA+ by year-end. AT&T, for its part, expects to cover 250 million POPs with HSPA+ by year-end. Further, AT&T plans to launch LTE service by the middle of next year and cover 70-75 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2011.

One has to wonder how long T-Mobile’s 4G campaign will last once AT&T’s HSPA+ network covers more people, despite the differences in speed, along with AT&T’s eventual roll-out of LTE.
For now, most users are enjoying some pretty decent coverage except for those in fringe areas within much larger cities like San Francisco and New York City. In those areas, buildings and other large structures have made it difficult for the carrier to get ubiquitous penetration, but for the most part the areas that do have good coverage seem to be enjoying some pretty fast data speeds.
  • T-Mobile’s HSPA+ has is 21mbps theoretical with Real World speeds of 6 to 10mbps. Att’s HSPA+ is 14mbps theoretical with Real World speeds of 3 to 5mbps. T-Mobile also has plans to upgrade to 42mbps 2nd half next year and 84mbps in 2012 then later either 168 HSPA+ or LTE beyond that. So either way T-Mobile’s speed are STILL faster than Att’s. Att should really be more specific about their actual speeds when they start talking about “their” HSPA+ because its definitely not on the same level as T-Mobile’s network.

    • Maxwell Evans

      The actual speeds of HSPA+ depends on the Rel. the HSPA+ is. Rel. 9-10 is the fastest. But beyond that is HSPA+ Advanced. Which is even faster. And since three months ago, which this was posted, AT&T hadn’t had their HSPA+ network deployed to the broadband network, you have to wait because most of the 3G speeds is 3-5Mbps.. But they’re planning on deploying LTE soon too, which is faster, again, depending on the Rel. of the HSPA+. 9-10 has LTE beat. But from what I’ve seen, even T-Mobile’s HSPA+ isn’t Rel. 9 or 10. It’s not even 8. 42Mbps is Rel. 8. Which is SLOW compared to LTE. Rel. 9 and 10 is 84 and 168.Both beat LTE. And HSPA+ Advanced is 336. But by the time T-Mobile expands, LTE Advanced will probably begin deployment, which is 1Gbps and has real world speeds of around 100Mbps. And trust me, if T-Mobile doesn’t hop on the LTE bandwagon, they’ll be left behind. Because as of now, there’s nothing faster than LTE Advanced.

      I’m such a geek, I know. But still. Also, just to say, 4G isn’t a standard yet. So, HSPA+ and LTE are both still 3G. Just beyond 3G. They’re being considered 3.9G. LTE Advanced is the actual candidate for 4G, because LTE doesn’t meet 4G requirements. Neither does HSPA+ or HSPA+ Advanced.

  • guest

    Seriously AT&T needs to finish their 3G rollout before even pissing around with 4G. I’m sick of not being able to use internet radio in my car when driving to Columbus from Cleveland every week. It’s this fact alone that will lead me to switch to Verizon. AT&T’s 3G is blazing fast. 5+ Mbps in Northeast Ohio. How about bring that speed everywhere before installing a 4G network that will be slow to be adopted by hardware manufacturers and that will be no faster than the HSPA+ we already have?

    • Maxwell Evans

      Well, technically speaking they are finishing their 3G rollout. Since 4G isn’t even a standard yet, meaning there is NO 4G as of right now. In fact, LTE, which AT&T plans to deploy soon, doesn’t even meet the 4G requirements for standardization. LTE Advanced, being the actual candidate for 4G, does. But, it’s not even around yet. I’m sick of explaining this shit. Look it up.. 4G doesn’t exist. They’re just marketing it as 4G.

      “Being described as a 3.9G (beyond 3G but pre-4G) technology the first release LTE does not meet the IMT Advanced requirements for 4G also called IMT Advanced as defined by the International Telecommunication Union such as peak data rates up to 1 Gbit/s. The ITU has invited the submission of candidate Radio Interface Technologies (RITs) following their requirements as mentioned in a circular letter. LTE Advanced should be compatible with first release LTE equipment, and should share frequency bands with first release LTE.”

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