Nov 17 AT 5:05 PM Taylor Wimberly 27 Comments

AT&T boast 80% of network upgraded to HSPA+, where are the “4G” handsets? #4Gwars

Ever since T-Mobile started referring to their new HSPA+ network as America’s largest 4G network we have been wondering if anyone was going to challenge them on that statement. At first AT&T said T-Mobile had their 4G numbers wrong. Then T-Mobile responded on Facebook and launched a new commercial which claims their network is faster than AT&T.

Now AT&T is back at it again claiming their HSPA+ network is just as fast as T-Mobile and it covers more people. Speaking at the Sencha Conference in San Francisco this week, AT&T CTO John Donovan said they have been adding more backhaul and 80% of their 3G network has been upgrade to HSPA+. By the end of the year, AT&T expects to cover 250 million POPs with HSPA+ – more than the 200 million T-Mobile is aiming for.

So while AT&T and T-Mobile both offer HSPA+ networks, only T-Mobile has handsets which can take advantage of the faster speeds. We have no indication AT&T will refer to their HSPA+ network as “4G” since they are rolling out LTE next year, but in theory the carrier could launch a HSPA+ handset this year and brand it 4G if they really wanted to.

It still remains unclear exactly how fast AT&T’s HSPA+ network really is. Early reports indicated that AT&T was going with HSPA+ 14.4 Mbps, but their network hardware is supposed to be capable of 21 Mbps (just like T-Mobile). Our sources tell us that AT&T has not actually made the switch to 21 Mbps yet, but it might not really matter right now since the current HSPA+ handsets are limited to 14.4 Mbps anyways.

AT&T is trying hard to pass up Verizon as the top carrier in the U.S. and the addition of a “4G” phone this Christmas would definitely help their efforts.

What do you think AT&T should do? If T-Mobile gets to call their HSPA+ network “4G” then should AT&T do the same?

Source: FierceWireless

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

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • http://Website Dirty Dirty


    AT&T’s 80% of HSPA+ is like 200% of T-Mo’s entire 3G coverage, let alone HSPA+. So much for those dumb T-Mo ads.

    • http://Website Dirty Dirty

      I guess the truth hurts?

      • http://Website Tito!

        Only an idiot would comment after his own comment.
        What a Bigot
        You sir, speak far from the truth (:

    • http://Website Garet

      no compatible phones = 0% coverage

      • http://Website Dirty Dirty

        I’ve seen the Captivate and iPhone 4 pull in 4-5 Mbps, so while there are no full on HSPA+ phones, regular 3G phones still benefit.

        • http://Website JaylanPHNX

          So do T-Mobile’s phones, so we’ll call that a draw. AT&T has no HSPA+ phones, so they can talk all they want, but the fact is T-Mobile has the network AND the phones.

          • http://Website Dirty Dirty

            Yeah, and AT&T has a much larger coverage area. T-Mo’s sub par 3G coverage will eventually bottle neck it.

  • http://Website Kenny

    If you buy an AT&T Captivate, you can enable HSPA+ pretty easily if you’re rooted.

    • http://Website Falseinfo

      No because the captivate doesnt have the required hardware

    • http://Website Einstein

      Kenny has an extra chromosome. What he wrote is complete bullshit.

      • http://Website haha

        scientific way to say retard

  • http://Website Andrew

    Whats the point in having the HSPA+ /4G if you dont have the devices to support it?

    Wimax not 4g, but they call it 4g because no one knows the difference, LTE not 4g but they are going to call it that anyways, HSPA+ not 4g but hey what the hell join the band wagon


  • Tebbe

    AT&T spends too much time in Apple’s reality distortion field for me to believe anything they say about network speeds or coverage. They may in fact have the largest and fastest HSPA+ network, but more than likely it’s very fast in a few locations and the rest of it, while larger than T-Mo, is slower. That’s the con they pulled last year when claiming to have the fastest 3G network, then immediately following that statement by saying their network covered 98% of America. Yes, AT&T’s network covers 98% of America, but their 3G network didn’t. Whereas Verizon’s 3G network wasn’t as fast, but it really did cover >90% of the country.

    • http://Website Stephanie

      Tebbe is spot on mates.

  • http://Website Tom Tom


    AT&T sucks.

  • http://Website CJ

    I wish AT&T would just go away. Far, far, far away!

  • http://Website haha

    i was just wondering what is the point of increasing internet speed if everytime they upgrade it, they also lower the data cap.

    • http://Website haha

      believe me, after they roll out their hspa+ and LTE at&t data cap will be lowered to 3gig per month

  • Prince77

    My whole thing is this. Do we the customers really know what is 3G and what is 4G? No one does, all these companies can do is saying it’s 3G/4G and run with it. 4G can be nothing but really fast 3G and we are paying more for nothing. These companies are the ones who named all this stuff 3G and 4G.

    • Tebbe

      Technically, there is a board that determines what qualifies as 3G, 4G, etc., but Sprint came out with their faster than 3G network and called it “4G” before the board defined a minimum speed for 4G. That has forced everyone else’s hand into calling their faster than 3G networks “4G”.

      If I remember correctly, 4G is supposed to be about 5 times faster than 3G, but everything that is being advertised as 4G is more like twice as fast as 3G.

      • http://Website Nick

        Actually, everything rolling out now is not twice as fast as 3G. Current 4G networks are running at capped 3G data rates. 3G technology can reach upwards of 40MBps and we’re nowhere near that right now.

  • http://Website Richard


  • http://Website alex

    T-mobile FTW
    sorry AT&T, but you are stuck in apple’s world. And naybe when you bring out an high-end android device that you do not keep on lock down then we can talk. Also who cares if AT&T’s newtwork is faster they still don’t have a compatible device, and please don’t say they have the iphone, because even t-mobile treats and supports their customer with unlocked iphones better :D

  • http://Website Bod1ggity

    Wow. There are some big time T-mobile fanboys on here now or days… anyone who post anything even slightly negative about T-mobile gets voted down to spam in 10 minutes… I hate AT&T and Sprint… I prefer verizon’s coverage to T-mobile, but I do admit that where they get good coverage, they get very fast coverage… All in all im a verizon fan, but the stupid moves they have been making are slowing making me look elsewhere and T-mobile is looking like its taking the forefront on the android platform, but I still dont think we should discredit other peoples opinions as spam just because they dont 100% agree with yours… if you do that, your no better than an apple fanboy.

  • http://Website BigGeek

    3g, 4g..All marketing BS.

    If you started at the first wireless data networks and added a “G” each time there was a change, we would be at 7 or 8 G.

    Find me a reason other than P2P, 2 way video chat or movie downloads to use higher data speeds.and I will start paying attention. Really, what will change from what you have right now?

    For most people, email and basic web access is all that they use, and 3G is more than sufficient.

    The carriers will rant and rave about themselves and each other while trying to create buzz around a service nobody really needs.

    This is all a reason to get everyone to buy another phone and sign another contract.

  • http://Website InspectorGadget80

    4G won’t be out till 2012 and it kinda sucks cause I’m been waiting and waiting. First T-Mobile went to 4G now Verizon. really sucks that I’m stuck on crappy AT&T phones but I still can get good signal everywhere I go I just hate AT&T taking too damn long as they count their iPhone sales and not getting any good Android devices.

  • http://Website Smarty pants

    Y’all sound like customers lol wailing about something that you may have read online but really not having a clue as to what is happening on any network. Tmob is going out of business just like sprint and all their would be customers are going to AT&T and Verizon. Even if I didn’t have inside information, the fact that both of the failing companies are giving away their sub par services for next to nothing is an obvious confirmation.