Who needs 4G LTE when T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 Mbps network can deliver whopping speeds in excess of 10 Mbps on the download side and over 2 Mbps on the upload with minimal LTE-like latency potential? According to America’s fourth largest national carrier, which is known for its more budget-friendly consumer plans, that network will soon be able to deliver the same types of 4G HSPA+ speeds on Apple’s iPhone hardware as T-Mobile is re-farming its 4G network to accommodate Apple’s smartphones.
Even though T-Mobile USA doesn’t officially carry Apple’s smartphones, it hasn’t been shy about swaying customers from Apple’s partners–AT&T Mobility, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon Wireless–to join its network with lower cost plan options. Through programs like a bring your own device, low-cost prepaid plans with 4G data, and new truly unlimited data options without throttling, T-Mobile is offering choice.
According to Apple Insider, the carrier is now offering customers in areas of Washington DC, Baltimore, and Houston the ability to tap 4G HSPA+ speeds on the 1900 MHz spectrum, which is currently supported on all unlocked iPhone models with GSM radios inside, including the CDMA variants of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.
This means that potentially, customers who switch to T-Mobile in these areas can experience speeds like what T-Mobile offers for native devices to its network. And given that speeds are in excess of 10 Mbps on HSPA+, LTE seems like it’s not that much better anyways.
“Our internal tests of unlocked iPhone 4S devices running over 4G (HSPA+) on our 1900 network recorded on average 70% faster download speeds than iPhone 4S devices on AT&’s network,” says T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray.
The carrier is now devoting the 1700 MHz spectrum, which was previously used for HSPA+, to serving its LTE needs in the future. The carrier is expected to debut an LTE network in 2013 and may get an iPhone officially to offer on its network at that time.
T-Mobile USA is now able to deliver HSPA+ speeds on the 1900 MHz spectrum as it had acquired a chunk of that spectrum from rival AT&T after the failed merger with AT&T. As a result, T-Mobile was given some of AT&T’s spectrum along with cash as part of its settlement after many groups had opposed the planned merger.
iPhone-compatible HSPA+ coverage for T-Mobile is now avialable in areas of Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, and Washington, DC.
In addition to the iPhone, any HSPA+ device that’s been unlocked from AT&T’s network could also benefit from T-Mobile’s spectrum re-farming.