11 Comments

Summary:

Live in Washington, DC; Baltimore or Houston? If so, you have something common with folks in Kansas City and Las Vegas: Your unlocked iPhone or other AT&T smartphone can now run on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network instead of the carriers old 2G network.

t-mobile-iphone-feature

Apple iPhone owners wanting to use their device on T-Mobile’s 4G network can now do so in three additional metropolitan areas. The operator announced Wednesday that the Washington, DC, Baltimore and Houston markets now support HSPA+ service on the 1900 MHz band. That’s good news for people in those areas that have an unlocked iPhone because their smartphone won’t be limited to slow EDGE speeds for mobile broadband. This trio of cities follows Kansas City and Las Vegas, which gained the same support lst month.

All of this is happening because T-Mobile is in the midst of a spectrum re-farm exercise: Switching its HSPA+ service away from the relatively unique 1700 MHz bands and over to 1900 MHz; the same frequency used by AT&T devices for HSPA+. T-Mobile is doing so in order to free up the 1700 MHz spectrum for its LTE network. While that network is some time off in the future — watch for it next year — the immediate benefit is for people wanting to use AT&T devices on T-Mobile’s network to save some money on their monthly service bill.

But this isn’t all about saving money if you’re an AT&T customer with an iPhone or some other HSPA+ device. According to T-Mobile CTO, Neville Ray, there’s a speed bonus.

In a blog post, Ray notes that “Our internal tests of unlocked iPhone 4S devices running over 4G (HSPA+) on our 1900 network recorded on average 70% faster download speeds than iPhone 4S devices on AT&T’s network.” Obviously if you have an LTE device, this scenario doesn’t apply, but it appears that in these particular testing areas, T-Mobile likely has support for 42 Mbps HSPA+ while AT&T doesn’t yet.

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  1. “T-Mobile makes three more cities iPhone-friendly with 4G”

    It’s not just iPhone. This website seems unduly obsessed with Apple, to the point where other important aspects of the industry are an afterthought or overlooked altogether.

    This Apple obsession does not benefit the reader, who could be forgiven for wrongly concluding based on this article that iPhone is the only device with 3G support. Their’s no excuse for promoting Apple so disproportionately. iPhone is not the most popular phone.

    The article was tweeted with the same misleading text.

    1. It’s mostly just the iPhone. Most other phones already support T-Mobile 1700Mhz spectrum.

  2. I have an iPhone, I’m on T-mobile, and I live in Houston. However, when I’m not on wifi, I’m on edge! This article speaks as though I should already have 4G. The best I can get, off wifi, is the occasional 3G. When will I experience this 4G I hear so much about? Thanks.

    1. Tina, note that the T-Mobile blog says: Houston: Cypress, Jersey Village, Humble, Kingwood, and The Woodlands. I live in Kingwood and get 3G on my T-Mobile enabled iPhone 3GS, but as soon as I get closer to downtown Houston, I go back to Edge.

    2. There is no 4G indicator on T-Mobile; that only shows up when you’re on AT&T’s HSPA+ network (which is totally bogus). In San Francisco–which is not officially done yet–there are many areas where T-Mobile’s network gives me between 10 and 12 Mbps.

  3. This is good to know. Also, T-Mobile has been pretty friendly with no-contract rate plans too, which is attractive. I’m going to be in the US for 2-3 months at a time over the next couple of years, and don’t need a contract. The AT&T gophone seems to be really limited and unfriendly to the iPhone too, and otherwise there’s walmart’s Straight Talk. But I have been happy with T-Mobile in the past.

  4. I have a comment and a question:
    Comment: HSPA+ is NOT 4G. 4G is LTE which they try to get on 1700Mhz. iPhone 4S also don’t support 4G/LTE

    Question: does anyone know when Los Angeles gets support for HSPA+ on 1900Mhz?

    1. Bas, I hear you on the 4G vs. LTE definition. All the carriers here have played loosely with the terms as they transition and compete. T-Mo has always called their HSPA+ service “4G” so we’re maintaining consistency. And consumers don’t really care if the technical names are right or not, they just care about the speed. I’ve seen reports of 30+ Mbps on T-Mo with the new Nexus 4, for example, so even if it’s not LTE, it can provide a similar experience.

    2. If we’re going to get technical, most LTE services currently offered don’t meet 4G definitions, either. Yet. I don’t care if they label it 6G or 7G — I’m only interested in what type of technology the network is running.

  5. Anyone in Los Angeles experiencing 3G+ speeds? as Bas is asking?

  6. Like this even matter? What can they maybe steal a few hundred people? They keep loosing customers in droves due to having all the sub par second and third pick Android phones, let alone not having the iPhone. Their coverage is sub-par, roams on AT&T once you leave a city area, HSPA+ is nice but what get you to far as even Sprint has implemented LTE. Hell Metro PCS even has certain markets LTE. Please Tmobile, just leave the United States, your sub-par service, cheap prices, and lackluster 3G are no match for the duopoly AT&T and Verizon.

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