As it stands, T-Mobile is the last major carrier-holdout on the 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) front. Or at least, T-Mobile was the last holdout in the wireless market.
T-Mobile’s Chief technology officer Joachim Horn recently stated that his company wouldn’t be rolling out the hardware upgrades necessary to enable HSPA Evolution (HSPA+) data speeds on their current 3G networks running HSDPA technologies. Instead, T-Mobile will be passing up the speed-boosting HSPA+ network upgrades in favor of a more direct and efficient pathway to the much ballyhooed 4G LTE technology.
Rather than invest time and money into upgrading their current HSDPA networks with the antennas that would enable 28.8Mbps data transfer rates possible wth HSPA+, T-Mobile would rather “start early [with LTE]. LTE is a more future-oriented technology.”
Current HSDPA networks can be upgraded from their theoretical data speed-limit of 7.2Mbps to 14.4Mbps with simple software-based upgrades. HSPA+ data speeds of 28.8Mbps, however, will require MIMO antennas (Multiple Input Multiple Output) to be retrofitting to existing infrastructure – not a small investment by any means.
The end result will leave T-Mobile unable to compete with other carriers that plan to upgrade their 3G networks to HSPA Evolution as a stop-gap measure on the pathway to LTE. On the other hand, the T-Mobile will be able to roll out their LTE network before many other major carriers. T-Mobile is expecting to go live with their LTE network in 2010.