T-Mobile doubles 3G wireless network speed

T-Mobile is determined to get as much mileage out of its HSPA+ network as possible as the carrier has again increased its speed to reach theoretical peaks of 42Mbps in more than 50 markets.

T-Mobile says that this increase effectively doubles the speed of its HSPA+ network, which has typically delivered average speeds in the 2Mbps to 4Mbps range. If the upgrade to the network doubles both peak theoretical speeds and average speeds, then users can expect their T-Mobile smartphones and laptop dongles to deliver average download speeds of between 4Mbps to 8Mbps.

ANALYSIS: Breaking down the carriers' "4G" wireless spin

The upgraded network for now is only available in 50 markets, including Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. T-Mobile has posted a complete list of cities that are gaining access to its upgraded HSPA+ network on its website.

The carrier has still made no mention of when it will eventually switch over from its HSPA+ network to the LTE standard currently used by Verizon. AT&T, which earlier this year reached an agreement to purchase T-Mobile for $39 billion, also runs an HSPA+ network and has also announced that it will begin launching LTE services commercially this summer.

LTE is essentially a bridge from 3G technologies such as HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev. A to the 4G IMT-Advanced technologies that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has in mind. As far as speeds go, initial tests of the LTE network showed data downloads frequently topping 10Mbps in most major markets, although these tests were run when the network just started and didn't have much congestion to deal with.

A test released this year by PC World showed that Verizon's LTE laptop air cards provided average download speeds of 6.5Mbps and average upload speeds of 5Mbps. Verizon became the first major U.S. carrier to deploy LTE last year when it launched the technology in 38 major markets covering roughly one-third of the U.S. population. The carrier plans to have its entire current 3G footprint upgraded to LTE by the end of 2013.

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