Tag Archive: 3g


The CDMA-equipped Samsung Galaxy Tab has so far been nothing more than a sticker in a random snapshot and some whispers about Verizon, but Boy Genius Report is saying that the Tab’s also bound forSprint‘s network this November, on both its 3G and 4G (i.e. WiMAX) network — à la the Galaxy SEpic 4G. No word from Sammy HQ on this one, but it’s worth noting that in our briefing, a Samsung rep mentioned that an American carrier could put Qik on it and, well, that’s kind of Sprint’s thing.

Advertisements

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.

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.

What FaceTime Looks Like Over 3G

Looks like crap, apparently. Okay, we’ll admit that FaceTime is cooler than we thought, but having it only work on Wi-Fi makes it less useful. But after seeing FaceTime fail over 3G, we’ll take less useless over being unusable.

The guys at LaptopMag tested out a FaceTime call over 3G by using the HTC Evo’s Mobile Hotspot feature, with its 4G turned off. The Evo used its 3G network to broadcast a Wi-Fi signal to get the iPhone 4 to connect to. Sneaky. The other iPhone 4 was connected to a real Wi-Fi network and if things went swimmingly, it’d be another instance of AT&T handcuffing the iPhone. But swim it did not, their video test went horribly wrong. According to them, “audio came through only in patches, and video was like a slideshow at best”.

Of course, the entire setup, from res to bitrates, is optimized for WiFi, so this isn’t quite a fair test. But it is an interesting setup in terms of seeing how Facetime does under the pressure of a bad internet connection. What happens when your wifi is very slow, or you have a really slow DSL connection? Same as if you had a 3G connection isn’t it? It either scales down or it gets lousy.

That’s not to say that FaceTime over 3G is always going to look like this. But since your 3G connection is volatile and hinges on so many different things like signal strength, tower proximity, how many users are connected to a tower, being indoors or outdoors, magnetism, unicorns, fairy dust, and how you hold your phone, you just never know what you’re going to get. Over Wi-Fi, it’s consistent. Over 3G, it’s a crapshoot. [LaptopMag]