Oct 25 AT 6:00 PM Taylor Wimberly 55 Comments

Rumor: T-Mobile preparing to call the other carriers’ 4G bluff

It has been about a week since the last time I wrote about “T-Mobile 4G” and unlike the first time I am now being encouraged to continue the conversation. Most people appeared to enjoy my last rumor report, so I’ll try and stick with a similar format in the name of being consistent. Read on after the break for all the latest details about T-Mobile’s new network and let us know if you think they should call it 4G.

The Rumor

High-level executives at T-Mobile really want to brand their new HSPA+ network as 4G, but their legal team is stopping them for fear of false advertising lawsuits.

The Sources

Leaked document #1: “America’s largest 4G network”; Leaked document #2: “Starting in the holiday window…we’re going to be loud and proud about our network”; T-Mobile Press Room: Continuous use of the phrase “4G speeds”; T-Mobile Coverage site: Has title “4G Wireless Network Speed”; T-Mobile G2 ads on TV: “With 4G speeds, it’s as turbo charged as you”; The confusion surrounding the new mytouch HD/4G/HSPA+ branding; Various conversations with industry insiders including David from TmoNews who I’ve linked to a dozen times in this post.

One Android Insider’s take on the rumor

What the heck is HSPA+? If you know the answer to that question then congratulations, but the average consumer looking to purchase a new smartphone likely has zero idea.

If a new customer walked into a T-Mobile store and they were looking to purchase a smartphone, which device do you think they buy – the myTouch 4G or the myTouch HSPA+?

T-Mobile knows that anything with 4G plastered on it is the latest buzz and that’s why they have been using the phrase “4G speeds” almost non-stop since they rolled out their HSPA+ network upgrade this summer.

As we covered in our last article, no one really owns “4G” and the carriers can use it how they see fit. Technically, the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunications (ITU-R) defines 4G as an advanced cellular system that “must have target peak data rates of up to approximately 100 Mbps for high mobility such as mobile access”, but that doesn’t apply to the current generation of “4G” networks.

As pointed out by our friends at IntoMobile and Phandroid, only WiMax 2 and Long-Term Evolution Advanced have been deemed worthy of the 4G name by the ITU-R and we don’t expect to see those technologies being widely used in the U.S. till 2013 or later.

Based on all the information I have, T-Mobile knows that using “4G” is a farce but their HSPA+ network is just as fast (sometimes faster) as competing 4G networks in the U.S. so they feel justified in calling the bluff and using it too.

In closing, I hope the execs at T-Mobile have the balls to go ahead and launch “T-Mobile 4G” this year. Maybe a lawsuit or two would bring some attention to the amazing speeds they are already offering and that 42 Mbps upgrade coming next year.

What do you think T-Mobile should do? If their HSPA+ network offers the same speeds as other “4G” networks, shouldn’t they be able to use “4G” as well?

Full disclosure. I admire T-Mobile as a company and I’ve been a happy customer for the last five years. I almost left them back in 2008, but the G1 kept me on board and I’m now a loyal customer because they don’t force me into a lame contract (much love for Even More Plus plans).

Via: Twitter

Source: ITU-R

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website JaylanPHNX

    Here, here! Why should Sprint be the only one to get away with false 4G advertising? T-Mobile’s network, plans, and now even their phones kick ass. It’s time for 4th place to get scrappy!

    • Gomez

      I finally made a video of verizons droid x, att iphone 4, samsung epic 4G, and t mobiles nexus one.
      Video is at youtube.com/watch?v=kA1K5wi3b2M
      IPHONE 4: 2.44
      DROID X: 1.32
      EPIC: 0.49 ON 3G ON 4G 6.02

      All the servers were set to chicago and tested several times.all on the speed test.net app.

  • http://Website maaax

    How about Tmo sues AT&T for claiming they have “the nation’s fastest 3G network?” BAM!

  • http://Website JGarrido

    Considering the hypothetical higher output then Sprint’s “4G” network (aka WiMAX), why not 4.5G? or 4G++ ? Maybe 4GS ?? ;-D

  • SliestDragon

    Even though I don’t think any carrier has the right to call there network 4G(due to none of them having fast enough data speeds; as stated above by ITU-R), I think T-Mobile would be stupid to not call there network 4G.

  • http://Website mikey

    call it 5G now that would be awesome!

  • http://Website Hector

    I live in Philly and when my vibrant can load pages at least 5 secs faster than my friend’s epic, evo, and droid x, I’m pretty sure T-mobile has the utmost privilege to call their network 4G

  • http://Website Nicholas Turner

    All these networks that say they are 4G are technically still 3G or 3.5G yes?

    In that sense T-Mobile would have the closest thing to 4G since they have faster speeds than the other guys.

    • http://Website hey

      i think, the reason they’re calling it 4g because 3.5g is hard to say, but if you round it off, you get 4g. Which leads me to a conclusion that 4g is legit!!!

  • http://Website Hugh Caley

    Maybe it’s time to report all of these wireless companies to the new Consumer Protection Bureau about things like “4G” standards and “Unlimited” data plans … certainly T-Mobile is never going to do anything about other wireless companies’ deceptive practices, other than get on the bandwagon, since they have many themselves.

  • http://Website Matt

    They should take the high road and tell their customers the truth. HSPA+ is not 4G and it does not deliver 4G speeds. Neither does WiMAX.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Sounds nice, but it’s too late. The U.S. consumer has already been beat over the head with 4G thanks to Sprint and the EVO 4G. Would you rather spend millions to educate the population about HSPA+ or just adopt the common name being used for new networks that are faster than 3G?

  • http://twitter.com/michaellipson Michael

    I don’t care what it’s called, I’m proud to have near 10Mbs down connection on my G2.

    • http://Website Fahad

      I found this comment amusing, as if you had something to do with reaching those 10Mbps speeds =P

      • http://Website jdog

        We all did because if they didn’t think we would buy their products then they wouldn’t have made a G2 in the first place. ^_^

      • http://Website Ted C..

        I have had a G2 for just 2 weeks and I can tell you that the difference the speed makes is like night and day. It’s really hard to go back to the Vibrant with only HSPA.

  • http://Website boss5

    I personally feel that they should stick with the phrase”4G speeds” just as catchy and makes TMO look different from the crowd. :)

  • http://Website The Sleeve

    I don’t think they should call it 4G…keep it at 4G speeds. This was if/when LTE comes around they can call it 4G as it really is meant to be and everyone will realize Sprint was a bunch of liars.

    • http://Website hey

      LTE is also a fake 4g. One of the requirements of a 4g is to have 100mb/s speed. LTE is only 14mb/s

  • http://[email protected] Mimi

    Just call it 4TMO

  • http://Website Craigers

    Of course they should call it 4G, it is the fastest network in the nation. If Sprint sues just buy them 8)

  • http://Website Russell Holly

    The bottom line much much clearer than “because everyone else is doing it”. Plain and simple, there is an International standard for what is called “4G” and Sprint got away with lying to their customers. Since they got away with it, why not Verizon? Since Verizon got away with it, why not T-Mobile? The point being made by the writer is that we should not give T-Mobile any crap because the other kids are doing it. While this perspective certainly will give the guys at T-Mo the warm and fuzzies, it does nothing to address the actual problem. It is necessary at this point for more serious action to be taken. For god’s sake, Sprint customers are being charged an extra $10/month for a lie! The ITU should have spoken up sooner, and customers should be educated to deal with their carriers.

  • Gomez

    I don’t know why T mobile doesn’t let people know that they have the fastes 3G. I’m in the military and I’m with a bunch of different phones (mostly Android!) Some iphones from 3G to the iphone 4. My nexus one beats all the phones. Minus the G2. I use speed test.nets app. I want to make a video but they won’t lend me their phones to embarrass them. They have Verizon s droidx, sprints epic and evo on 4g Att iphone4. I get on average 3.3 to 4.8 mb in chicago and we don’t even have HSPA+ yet. the G2 matches my nexus one so far.
    1.Tmobile doesn’t even charge for the tethering hotspot I use to show them that their network sucks when they use my tmobile hotspot they pick up higher mb than my nexus one.
    Also they don’t have a cap on limit of gig s that you can use a month.

    • Azeem

      Actually, there is a cap, but it’s less restrictive than the other carriers. It’s a “softcap” of 5GB, and they just throttle back your speeds once you hit that.

      Still the best, imho. :-)

      • http://plankhead.com Zacqary Adam Green

        10GB, actually.

        Still not “Unlimited” though, as they advertise.

        • http://Website J.

          Actually, it’s exactly what they advertise.
          The amount of data that you can consume is, in fact, unlimited.
          There are no overage charges if you go beyond 10gb in a billing cycle.
          Instead they throttle your speed, but they don’t stop you from getting data, nor do they charge you more for that data than the agreed upon price.

          I can’t really think of a way that it could be more “unlimited”.

  • http://Website Galen20K

    i fully endorse this articled and I think its balls on accurate. Its very hypocritical for for other Telecom companies to complain about T-Mobile calling their much faster network 4G when they themselves are doing it as well and not as good as T-Mobiles. So yes, they absolutely should market the network as 4G since everybody else is, its just stupid not to.

  • http://Website Electrofreak

    Frankly I think they should brag that their 3G is faster than Sprint 4G. And this is coming from a Sprint Epic owner in a 4G market.

  • http://Website ivan

    you guys are stupid, you’ll think just cause it doesn’t reach 100 mbps, its not 4G. Just cause T mobile reaches higher download speeds doesn’t mean its faster. Their is also other requirements that Wimax meets and hspa+ will never meet. So yea Wimax is true 4G while hspa+ still sucks donkey balls…….lmfao

    • http://Website steve

      hey MOMO…if wimax was the real 4G then why are all carriers that originally went with wimax are now all switching to LTE????? wimax is a limited technology and will only be used by a small number of carriers here in the U.S. The Entire planet has chosen to go with the agreed upon technology called LTE…let me repeat… “THE ENTIRE PLANET EARTH”…wimax is virtually dead and sprint/clearwire know that..thats why they are looking for LTE partners so they would not waste all of that cash the spent on wimax….losers…so before you post STUPID comments on this page make sure you know something about something….remember people reading this know something about the cellular world….

  • http://Website jayy336

    I read an article not too long ago on gizmodo addressing how carriers called their 2G networks 3G during the beginning, of course some of them went back on their word and changed what they said 3G was at the time.

    With that being said, I do think T-Mobile should call their HSPA+ network 4G. Sprint does it with their WI-MAX and we know that even that isn’t true 4G. Of course the other networks will bitch about T-Mobile pimping out their faux 4G, but they also do that because they KNOW tmo’s 3.75G or whatever its actually called is faster than their “4G”. Besides no one else, but us geeks, know what generation each of these networks truly belong to.

  • http://Website steven

    T-Mobile has the fastest network out there to date…it blows away all other major carriers like Verizon, Sprint and ATT…if you doub lt me do your own speed test or look up all the tests that have been completed already by many third party critics and reviewers.. T-MOBILE…YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY MARKET HSPA+ AS 4G…ITS TIME THE BIG BULLIES GOT A TASTE OF THEIR OWN MEDICINE…SHOW THEM THE LITTLE GUY CAN PLAY THE GAME JUST AS WELL….GO FOR IT AND SLAP THEM ALL WITH A DOSE OF REALITY…JUST MAKE SURE ALL CUSTOMERS KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE AND SAY IT LOUD AND CLEAR!!!!!!!

    • http://Website sivart

      Well in middle georgia tmo is not the fastest, hell, there are some places i get 0 service on main roads. Ive sent tmo a request to up there signal strength, havnt seen or heard anything. But if/when hspa+ ever gets here it should be alot better.

  • http://Website riknos

    While I believe that tmo should call their network 4g, speed issues aside, HSPA+ is much more like 3g in archetecture than it is to 4g, simply because it has 2 parallel infastructures 1 for voice and one for data, while 4g has only a data connection and routes everything through that. (For all techies, I know that I didn’t use the correct tech terms here, but I wanted to make this as simple to understand as possible.) So basicaly even if HSPA+ did offer 100mbit speeds, it still wouldn’t be 4g because it uses a different infastructure.

    • http://Website riknos

      I believe that this is why tmo has been advertising their network as 4g speeds and not 4g.

    • http://Website idiots

      Im mad that people gave you a -1 for being right, I just tried up vote you. Yes 4G is data only and is actually all IP-based similar to current comcast and fios offerings.Dont get discouraged by other ignorance… and why cant a tech blog please set their fanbase right on what the difference is… or its possible that they themselves dont know…

  • http://Website idiots

    For a tech savvy site you people are idiots, 4G describes the technology not the speed. 4G technology is IP based and will likely use many of the IPv6 standards… HSPA is not and NEVER will be a soley IP based connection method. It could be a trillion times faster and still not meet the 4G standard. If you want to make the arguement than all current hardware which is COMPATIBLE with a future 4G network should apply to with the EVO 4G and Epic 4G actually are….the network just currently does not support the throughput. HSPA devices now will NEVER be compatible with 4G networks… This is like telling consumers you have a v-8 engine in your v-6 car because its just as fast. Ya you can market that its AS fast as a v8 or v8 like speeds/power etc. But telling consumers it IS a v-8 is a blantant lie. The only thing Sprint is doing is putting the equivalent of a pathetic v-8 in their device. But it still technically has the hardware and thus qualifies.

    • mickwheeler

      Props on clarifying the actual problem… which is: What is 4G and is that what we’re talking about?

      Here’s one of the accepted definitions of 4g (from wikipedia):

      4G refers to the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. It is a successor to 3G and 2G families of standards. The nomenclature of the generations generally refers to a change in the fundamental nature of the service, non-backwards compatible transmission technology, and new frequency bands. The first was the move from 1981 analog (1G) to digital (2G) transmission in 1992. This was followed, in 2002, by 3G multi-media support, spread spectrum transmission and at least 200 kbit/s, soon expected to be followed by 4G, which refers to all-IP packet-switched networks, mobile ultra-broadband (gigabit speed) access and multi-carrier transmission.[citation needed] Pre-4G technologies such as mobile WiMAX and first-release 3G Long term evolution (LTE) have been available on the market since 2006[1] and 2009[2][3][4] respectively.

      Please note that 4g refers to all-IP packet-switched networks, gigabit speed and multi-carrier transmission… this means that until T-mobile offers a data connection that is IP-packet switched, the speed offered (any speed, even gigabit) is irrelevant.

      So the lemmings argument comes into play… if all the other carriers are jumping off the cliff, why shouldn’t we? There are many reasons for T-Mobile to do so, not least among them the fact that the T-Mobile (3G or HSPA) data network speed is actually faster than the (3G or 4G) data network speed of the other carriers. However, this is only true in areas where T-Mobile has 3G or HSPA coverage… which is admittedly sparse. Also among the reasons for jumping off the cliff is the fact that consumers are woefully uninformed about the technology being advertised by the various carriers, which is compounded by an unwillingness of these same consumers to learn anything more than advertising catch-words.

      In summary, this means that T-Mobile is doing nothing more than taking advantage of consumer ignorance… which is a time-honored advertising practice. The differences between 3G, HSPA, WiMax and LTE (which are ALL 3G by the way) mean very little to the average consumer, so education is likely not the answer in this case.

      My personal preference (which is what forums are about expressing) is that T-Mobile should adopt the advertising practices of the other carriers. Does this make them a lemming? Yes. Does it make them wrong? I don’t think so.

      If we take T-Mobile to task on something, let’s make it about something that is tangible and immediate… like rewarding long-term customers with loyalty incentives on newer phones (which anyone that tried to upgrade to a Nexus One when it came out will likely remember) or giving us the option of paying a premium for uncapped, unlimited data (I don’t use more than 5Gb per month, but I would gladly pay for the privilege).

      • http://Website idiots

        I agree with you up until the point where you feel Tmo should market as 4G. Sprint’s 4G is 95% compliant with the standard, and up until the point where the ITU decided to make the speed requirements at 100mbit/s it WAS a 4G network not because of speed but structure. Because of the new standards it is considered Pre-4G because it is in structure radically different and more advanced than a 3G network, all speed requirements aside. I feel the true test of whether a network or phone should be called 4G should be whether the hardware is backwards compatible with future 100mbps networks. In this cause the Evo 4G and Epic 4G devices will work on Sprints upgraded network when it meets the requirements. The HSPA+ phones will not and really are nothing more than Advanced 3G or 3G Advanced.

        Anyway based on the structure of Sprint’s network it is by virtue at the time it was built a 4G network and meets the wavering standards of the time and Sprint pretty much meet the requirements as cheaply as possible. Which they are to be applauded and chastised for. Im a tmo user because they are the fastest network and the only reason I’m not with Sprint is because I believe WiMAX will be DOA here in US and Verzion has a routed investment in making LTE succeed here.

  • http://Website Ryan T.

    I live in a small city of about 100,000 people and we have hspa+ and I can finally get back at all my friends who have vzw and have been making fun of tmo for years… and it’s gonna be a long time before big red gets 4g in a small city like this. With the speeds I’m experiencing on a non-hspa+ phone (crappy cliq,but finally running 2.1) they can definitely call it 4g. It’s way better than anything the competition has out right now. Now I just want a mytouch 4g (what the name should be) or g2 so I can take full advantage. Thx for rewarding my patience tmobile!

  • http://Website adam

    All i can say if finally tmobile have step up on android in my opinion. t-mobile is second place again on android like they was when verizon got the droid ,droid eris and droid incredible.

    Sprint has decent phone and the epic is the same as vibrant minus keyboard,front face camera. But tmobile getting mytouch hd that has front face camera. I dont think sprint has nothing good in their line up expect Samsung epic. Evo4g wasnt a big deal.

    I love t-mobile cant wait for g2 to get android 2.3 or 3.0 ect. lol

    T-mobile rocks go green with android.

    People add me on youtube as i am going to start making video on the g2 soon.


  • http://Website adam

    The only reason i dont give t-mobile number 1 spot on android is because verizon has droid 2,droid x and their getting htc merge which is the g2 branded with sense ui. So if t-mobile or europe country get a good phone, a few weeks later verizon will call it a different name with better specs. Remember, Nexus one ???? Droid incredible was the first android to have 8 megapixes & 8 gb internal memory (actually 7.4 gb) and sprint copied verizon with droid incredible with a bigger screen and ugly form factor called htc evo4g.

  • http://Website joeskie

    so here is my take. tmobile cannot call their network 4g for one simple reason: equipment. the raw build up of the network does not meet 4g infrastructor requirement.. this saddens me because tmobiles network is radically advanced. my n900 has a max pull down of ten mbps and my average speed is between 5 and 8 mbps real world. t-mobiles network is so fast down here that we actually hooked up a xbox through wifi with a n1 and were able to sign into xbox live and play 3 player online halo 3.ran flawlessly. im in albuquerque,nm and if you look at tmos coverage map you will see, we should not have hspa+ 21.0 here, we should have only 7.2 hspa and look at these speeds i get. bottom line is tmo needs to stick to 3g and make it painfully obvious how uncomfortably fast their 3g is compared to “americas first 4g network”. im sorry but 13300 kbps on g2 (3g) vs max 6 mbps and between 1 and 2 realworld is embarrasing.

  • http://Website deeb215

    “bigger screen and ugly form factor called htc evo4g.”


  • http://Website Yvese

    Its too bad more people dint use tmobile.they have the best plans and network and are just now getting great phones.wake up people!!

  • elijahblake

    i think Tmobile needs to expand their 3G footprint first and foremost.. They don’t have 3G in Jackson, MS which is the most populated place in the State..

    • http://Website Galen20K

      They have been, just because they haven’t gotten to your side of town yet doesn’t mean they’re sitting still. In fact they’ve made great Strides in the last year.

    • http://Website jdog

      Well hopefully by promoting the fastest and the biggest 4G network in America it will get them more customers and a lot more money so they can get your city some 3G+. It works for Verizon and they currently have the slowest data speeds from any carrier.

  • http://Website jerry

    I understand the story .. but why is Android AND me So pro – T-mobile?

    • http://Website watbetch

      What are you talking about? They seem to have a ton of Verizon-Android posts.. they post up on the latest Android news. Sprint isn’t really in the game right now, phones get outdated THAT QUICK. They still have that HTC Evo 4G Review space up on the right of every page.

  • http://Website jj

    I would like this if they actually gave us 4g speed. more like t-mo edge in los angeles

  • http://Website PhaseBurn

    I think T-Mobile should partner with the G4 television network, bring a number of G4 shows to T-Mobile TV, and brand their new network as T-Mobile G4. It’s enough to confuse people into thinking G4 = 4G, with out the legal ramifications, and the heavy multimedia content from the G4 partnership would very likely appeal to a number of their existing customers.