T-Mobile announced their first HSPA+ device at a press conference this week during Mobile World Congress. The webConnect Rocket USB modem will be the first device to take advantage of the faster speeds offered by HSPA+ which has a theoretical max download of 21 Mbps.
The webConnect Rocket will hit stores in March which should coincide with T-Mobile’s backhaul upgrade to 25% of its towers. The HSPA+ network is already live in certain parts of Philadelphia and Kevin Tofel from jkOnTheRun has been testing it.
Even though the theoretical max speed of T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network is 21 Mbps, the best-case scenario for real world tests is normally half that. In his testing, Kevin was able to achieve 9.11 Mbps down and 2.76 Mbps up with the webConnect Rocket. This is almost 10 times faster than what I normally get on my phone and even surpasses Sprint’s 4G WiMax network.
T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network will also be backwards compatible with all their current HSPA 7.2 phones. This includes virtually their entire Android lineup (I’m not aware of any Android phones that don’t have it). Even though these devices max at out 7.2 Mbps, they should still see improved speeds and reduced latency over the new network. Kevin tested his Nexus One on the Philly HSPA+ network and recorded speeds over 4 Mbps down and 1.3 Mbps up.
The first markets to receive HSPA+ will be along the California coast and “major cities from Washington, D.C. to Boston”. We expect to receive a full list of cities next month as we approach the webConnect launch date.
We are starting to see the first phones with HSPA+ (like the Huawei U8800) and I’m guessing T-Mobile will have something in stores this holiday season. It remains to be seen if T-Mobile will continue to call their network 3G or pick another name to emphasize the faster speeds. I imagine there will be a showdown with Sprint 4G as they are also expected to release a WiMax handset this year.