T-mobile has reportedly upgraded its US 3G network to HSPA 7.2, which is capable of downlink speeds of 7.2Mbps. That is twice as fast as previously supported, and technically makes T-mobile the fastest national mobile network out there – though where available Clearwire’s WiMAX does burst higher of course. With the higher downstream speeds comes greater backhaul requirements, but T-mobile has the ‘blessing’ of not having to support an iPhone explosion in the USA – yet. They still haven’t publicly said much about their plans for 4G, but I think they will start talking LTE in earnest sometime in the first half of this year.
AT&T brought a bit of good news to its struggle to please the throngs of iPhone users it was so proud to have won in 2009. They too have passed a preliminary milestone in the process of upgrading to HSPA 7.2, although actually delivering that to customers will be an ongoing process throughout the year. Will that be enough to take some of the congestion heat off their backs in the press? Not bloody likely, but I doubt anything can at the moment. This upgrade will come first to Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami, and not initially to the current flash point of New York City. But it wouldn’t really help there anyway. While last mile speeds are part of the problem, the real issue lies in the backhaul network.
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