Category: T-mobile


Word on the street this morning is that a few people have gotten an over-the-air update on their T-Mobile G2 that enables Wifi calling, tethering and a sundry of other trinkets. Rollout doesn’t seem widespread just yet, so we’re likely in the very early stages here. But any update is a welcome update, especially one that brings this kind of functionality.

 

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“†On approved credit. $125 down payment, plus 3 monthly payments of $125, required. 0% APR. Taxes & fees additional. Available only at T-Mobile-owned retail stores.”

It’s called the G2, it’ll run Android, and it’s T-Mobile’s first phone to ride those wannabe-4G HSPA+airwaves. Those are the facts we have. As to the speculation, a previous roadmap leak and T-Mobile’s own reps indicate it’ll be a HTC-built handset set for a September release, while a careful eyeballing of that silhouette leads us to thinking it’s the same device as the purported myTouch HD we’ve been seeingaround here lately. Whatever it is, it’s coming soon!

For all of you T-Mobile users who are eagerly awaiting 4G to arrive, don’t hold your breath.  Rene Obermann, CEO of T-Mobile USA’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, stated that there are currently no plans for building a 4G network in the US for at least 2 years.   Obermann instead affirmed that, “With HSPA+ we’re in a very good position. We still have plenty of capacity, so we are competitive.” It seems as if the T-Mobile brass are satisfied with their current 3G offerings, and are not overly concerned about competing with early US 4G adopters like Sprint, at least not right away.  For now, the most T-Mobile customers can expect is continuous upgrades to the existing 3G network, which is reported to be hitting speeds of up to 42 Mbps sometime in 2011.

Surprise, surprise. The Garmin-Asus Garminfone has dropped in price. Again. But this time, it appears to apply only to existing T-Mobile customers. Tmo has sent out emails to existing customers, informing them that they can now pick up a Garminfone for only $99 (with 2-year contract & $50 mail-in rebate), meaning they get an instant $30 discount. This may be a special promotion or a last ditch attempt to sell as many Garminfones as possible, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing this GPS-laden Android phone much longer.

This is somewhat startling, considering that we covered another price drop just 3 weeks ago. The navigation-savvy device is declining in popularity faster than expected. T-Mobile may not like it, but the Garminfone is going downhill. Fast.

T-Mobile might be smallest of the big four national carriers, but their upgraded 3G network is going to top anything that their larger competitors have to offer this year. Sprint’s launch of the first 4G phone, the HTC EVO, has generated a lot of buzz (which is deserved) but I wanted to take a moment and cover a few simple reasons why I think T-Mobile deserves some more attention.

1. More coverage

T-Mobile HSPA+

What good is a super fast network if you can’t access it? Sprint is gradually expanding their WiMAX network and plans to cover 120 million people this year, but T-Mobile has already surpassed them in coverage area and will provide 4G speeds to 185 million people by the end of 2010.

T-Mobile has an advantage in coverage thanks to their late transition to 3G. They were the last major carrier to roll out a nationwide 3G network so their equipment was newer and able to support HSPA+ after a software update (and upgraded backhaul to their towers).

Sprint on the other hand chose WiMAX for their 4G strategy and this requires new network equipment to be installed in each market. Their 4G network will continue to grow, but it will be at a slower pace than T-Mobile’s HSPA+.

2. More devices

T-Mobile phones

One of the major benefits of T-Mobile’s new HSPA+ network is that it is fully backwards compatible with existing devices. This means that current T-Mobile customers with older Android phones can take advantage of advanced speeds when HSPA+ comes to their city.

T-Mobile currently offers 16 devices that support HSPA 7.2 Mbps, which includes their entire Android lineup. Many of our readers are already taking advantage of the network upgrade and havereported impressive speeds. Best of all, these faster speeds are available to existing customers with no changes to their calling plans or additional fees.

In the coming weeks, T-Mobile is expected to unveil their first HSPA+ handset which should launch later this summer.

3. Faster speeds

HSPA+ speedtest

There are many different types of WiMAX and HSPA+ that are capable of a wide range of speeds, but the implementation of HSPA+ that T-Mobile is using offers twice the theoretical speeds of Sprint’s WiMAX network. Sprint’s current theoretical max is 10 Mbps and T-Mobile is offering 21 Mbps.

Sprint advertises their 4G network is 10x faster than existing 3G networks and claims download speeds of 3-6 Mbps while capping uploads at 1 Mbps. I tested their network using the HTC EVO 4G and found it was extremely reliable, but I was unable to surpass 3 Mbps downloads.

When I tested my Nexus One on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network in Houston, I found I was able to hit 5 Mbps down and over 1 Mbps up. Those speeds are impressive and they will only improve once a HSPA+ handset is available later this year.

Theoretical maxes and real world speeds can vary by quite a bit, but after spending hands-on time with both networks I have found that T-Mobile can be twice as fast as Sprint. Comments from our readers have also confirmed that people in HSPA+ markets are seeing faster speeds than those in 4G WiMAX areas.

If you need some more evidence, here are just a few hands-on reports from T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network. Kevin Tofel of jkOnTheRun was able to acheive speeds of 9 Mbps down and nearly 3 Mbps up when he performed his latest round of testing.

Closing thoughts

This post wasn’t meant to bash on Sprint, but I wanted to show that “4G” is not always better than 3G. Sprint offers some great calling plans, but they are limited to a single 4G handset that is currently sold out online.

While we are talking about carrier networks, we might as well mention AT&T and Verizon too. AT&T is also upgrading to HSPA+ in 2010, but they have a slower implementation (14.4 Mbps) than what T-Mobile is using. Their network could rival T-Mobile, but we don’t have any detailed timelines on the rollout or handset launches yet.

Verizon will roll out 4G LTE to 25-30 markets in 2010, but they are not expected to have any LTE handsets till the summer of 2011. There is a good chance they could eventually have the fastest 4G handset, but we won’t know that for another year.

The carrier landscape is always changing, but if you want an Android handset on the fastest network (this summer), keep an eye on T-Mobile. Of course I could eat my words several months from now, but another reason I stick with T-Mobile is because they don’t force me to. T-Mobile is one of the few major carriers to offer no-contract plans and I’ve saved quite a bit of money since I switched to their Even More Plus plan last year.

With all the talk lately of Verizon’s LTE and Sprint’s WiMax, T-Mobile wants to remind everyone that it’s aggressively pushing HSPA+ and its up-to-21MBps speeds (theoretical, of course) to compete with Verizon and Sprints’s offerings. It now says 85 million people are already blanketed in 50 areas, with 185 million in 100 areas to be covered before 2010 is out. The newest cities include:

Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Waco, Texas; Baltimore, Md.; Baton Rouge and Lafayette, La.; Birmingham, Ala.; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale and Jacksonville, Fla.; Greenville, S.C.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Indianapolis, Ind.; Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Portland, Ore.; and Wichita, Kan.

The just-released Samsung Vibrant was specifically named as one of “more than a dozen smartphones” to “benefit from enhanced speeds” when in HSPA+ coverage. In addition, TMO promises more information on their first fully HSPA+ capable phone “later this summer”. T-Mobile also mentioned the launch of a new “webConnect Rocket 2.0” USB Laptop Stick with HSPA+ and a Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook with webConnect.

Check out the full press release (minus the boring legal stuff) after the break.

“BELLEVUE, Wash.—July 21, 2010— Today, T-Mobile USA, Inc. announced the continued expansion of its super-fast mobile broadband network to more than 85 million Americans—the most pervasive network to offer 4G speeds1 in the country. T-Mobile® is on track to deliver HSPA+ speeds in 100 major metropolitan areas with backhaul in place, covering 185 million people in the U.S. by the end of this year. Now HSPA+ network service is available in nearly 50 major metropolitan areas across the country, with the newest additions including Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Waco, Texas; Baltimore, Md.; Baton Rouge and Lafayette, La.; Birmingham, Ala.; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale and Jacksonville, Fla.; Greenville, S.C.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Indianapolis, Ind.; Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Portland, Ore.; and Wichita, Kan. In addition, T-Mobile has expanded coverage in cities in previously announced metropolitan areas including Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. 4G speeds are now available for customers in Alexandria, McLean and Reston, Va.; Anaheim, Burbank, Glendale, Irvine, Long Beach, and Ontario, CA; Annapolis, Bethesda and Chevy Chase, Md.; and Asheville and Hickory, N.C.
In addition, 16 of T-Mobile’s current 3G devices, including more than a
dozen smartphones,2 can benefit from enhanced speeds when they’re on the
super-fast HSPA+ network in all of these major metropolitan areas, including the newest smartphone available from T-Mobile—the Samsung Vibrant. And later this summer, T-Mobile will unveil its first HSPA+-capable smartphone. More details will be available in the coming weeks.
“T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network now offers 4G speeds to more people than any other wireless network in the country,” said Neville Ray, chief network officer for T-Mobile USA. “The aggressive pace of our HSPA+ network rollout means our customers can enjoy a better mobile broadband experience on more devices in more places today—but we’re not done yet. Our first HSPA+ smartphone is coming soon and our footprint will double between now and the end of the year.”
Complementing the network expansion is wider availability of the T-Mobile® webConnect® broadband products in T-Mobile retail stores in all HSPA+ areas including the webConnect Rocket™ USB Laptop Stick, the first HSPA+-capable device from a national U.S. wireless carrier and the Dell™ Inspiron™ Mini 10 with T-Mobile webConnect, T-Mobile’s first netbook. Also beginning today, T-Mobile is introducing the webConnect Rocket 2.0 USB Laptop Stick, an updated form factor of its first HSPA+-capable device. Featuring a new rotating swivel USB form factor, the webConnect Rocket 2.0 is designed to deliver the same home broadband experience on the go as its predecessor, so customers can surf the Web, download large files or watch video from a laptop anytime on-the-go with a blazing-fast connection. The webConnect Rocket 2.0 enables customers to take full advantage of T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network in areas where the service is available—delivering 4G speeds.
T-Mobile network service is currently available in the following major
metropolitan areas: Albany, N.Y.; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Baton
Rouge, La.; Birmingham, Ala.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte,
N.C.; Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, OH; Dallas/Ft. Worth; Dayton,
Ohio; El Paso, Texas; Fayetteville, N.C.; Ft Lauderdale, Fla.; Greensboro,
N.C.; Greenville, S.C.; Hartford, Conn.; Honolulu; Houston; Indianapolis;
Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Memphis,
Tenn.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Minneapolis, Minn.; New Orleans, La.; New York; Oklahoma City; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Providence, R.I.; Rochester, N.Y.; San Antonio; Seattle; St. Louis, Mo; Syracuse, N.Y.; Tampa, Fla.; Tulsa, Okla.; Waco, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Wichita, Kan. The HSPA+ network expansion is on track to reach 100 metro areas by year end. For more information, please visit http://t-mobile-coverage.t-mobile.com/coverage”

T-Mobile drops price of GarminFone to $129.

It’s truly remarkable to see almost every trace of a successful, well-established Valley start-up’s work wiped out in the span of 24 hours, but here we are: T-Mobile’s discontinuing the Sidekick line as of tomorrow, July 2, which effectively means that the Sidekick LX 2009 will no longer be available. As a refresher, the latest Sidekick LX was the last product holistically engineered by Danger as it got shoehorned into Microsoft — square peg in a round hole, as it were — before repurposing the team to work on the just-killed Kin line. In a way, it’s a miracle that the LX ever went back on sale following thenightmarish data issues they’d gone through last year, so we suppose it’s a silver lining that they made it this far — but still, it’s sad to see Danger’s years of design effectively vaporized without a trace like this. For what it’s worth, T-Mobile says that it’s working “on the next chapter of [its] storied Sidekick franchise” and to “stay tuned” for a “fresh” experience, but since T-Mobile owns the Sidekick brand (not Danger / Microsoft), we’ve got every reason to believe these new products will be based on Android considering the carrier’s huge investment in its myTouch line. Adios, Sidekick — we’ll do one last screen flip in your honor.

As promised, T-Mobile has brought the Garminfone to retail today for $199 after $50 rebate on a new two-year contract, calling into question the viability of selling a nav-centric Android device with an HVGA display, 3 megapixel camera, and no 3.5mm headphone jack for $250 out of pocket in the store. We suppose the awesome car dock will attract some, but the myTouch 3G Slide certainly seems like the better option for less money — maybe this would work at $99 or $149, we suppose. Not that we’re impatient or anything, but where’s our Froyo update, Garmin?