T-Mobile To Turn Up The Speed This Year

I am a long time T-Mobile customer, and as such I keep up with any news of improvements that T-Mobile is making on their network. A couple of months ago T-Mobile announced that they had upgraded their existing 3G data service to support speeds up to 7.2 Mbps, but my personal testing in the Detroit, MI and Fort Collins/Loveland, CO areas did not show any speed improvements. Every week I fire up the Speedtest.net Android application, which you can find in the Android Market, on my phone to see whether the data network is any faster, and so far the fastest data speed I have seen is 908 Kbps down.

In an article today on Gigaom titled…

T-Mo’s HSPA+ Upgrade to Hit the Coasts First

… I read that T-Mobile has only upgraded 7% of their towers with faster Internet connections. Why this is important is that even though there might be faster data service between my phone and the tower, if the tower’s connection to the Internet is slow I am not going to see any gains in my Internet connection. The article does provide me some hope with the statement that in the next couple of weeks they will turn up faster speeds to 25% of their towers, so I’ll keep testing.

T-Mobile hasn’t received much publicity for their 3G data service, mostly because it does not have the same amount of coverage as AT&T, not to mention Verizon or Sprint. However, testing done by Root Wireless during this year’s Super Bowl showed T-Mobile had the best performance at that event. The results are based on a combination of data throughput and dropped connections. Testing at an event like the Super Bowl can show how a carrier’s network performs under stress because there is a higher concentration of users at the event, however, the test only shows performance at the event’s location. Performance at Sun Life stadium might not reflect performance in Miami, not to mention your home.

As the Gigaom article suggests, T-Mobile may soon get a lot of publicity for having the fastest 3G network in the United States as it starts turning on HSPA+, which has theoretical speeds of 21 Mbps down. It appears as though T-Mobile will be rolling out the service to the East and West coasts first, and then turning it on gradually across the country. T-mobile has said they will have HSPA+ turn on for the country by the end of 2010.

The news of the upgrade does come with one large caveat. No existing T-Mobile device is capable of using HSPA+, and I assume that includes the Google Nexus One. To take advantage of the faster network speed T-Mobile users will have to buy new phones that support HSPA+.