T-Mobile USA plans to launch the first smartphone for its newly upgraded evolved High-Speed Packet Access Plus (HSPA+) network in September.
The device will be manufactured by High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) and will run on Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Android operating system, according to a spokesman at Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), T-Mobile's parent. Further details about the device are not available at this time.
The handset is understood to be the world's first HSPA+ smartphone, and it will be the first phone that is made to handle T-Mobile's upgraded 3G network with peak downlink network speeds of up to 21 Mbit/s. While that is the theoretical maximum speed, in the real world the data rates experienced on this smartphone will be closer to 10 Mbit/s. (See T-Mobile USA Expands HSPA+.)
The new device launch in September will be followed by the introduction of another HSPA+ smartphone in the fourth quarter, which is intended to be available in time for the holiday season. The smartphones will join the laptop USB stick, dubbed the webConnect Rocket, which T-Mobile already offers for the HSPA+ network.
The upgrade effort is a cornerstone of T-Mobile's growth strategy in the US. The fourth largest US operator has already rolled out the 3G upgrade across 25 markets, covering 75 million people, and plans to cover 185 million people by the end of this year. (See T-Mobile Hangs Growth Hopes on HSPA+ in US, T-Mobile Ups 3G Stakes, and MWC 2010: T-Mob's 3G Speed Race.)
Faster HSPA+ or LTE?
But how far beyond 21 Mbit/s will T-Mobile take the 3G upgrades before making the inevitable leap to Long Term Evolution (LTE)? That question resurfaced this week after a report on the T-Mo News blog suggested that T-Mobile was planning to upgrade to 42-Mbit/s HSPA+ in 2011. (See CTIA 2010: T-Mobile Talks Up 3G in the USA.)
According to the Deutsche Telekom spokesman, the carrier has not made a decision on that. "T-Mobile USA has not decided yet if they will use the new 42 Mbps standard or maybe rollout LTE for the US," he said in an emailed response. "This decision will be made at a later point of time after having considered all necessary aspects and the experiences made with both HSPA+ and LTE in the other markets of Deutsche Telekom."
Updating the network to support 42-Mbit/s HSPA+ will require the operator to update its cellsites with new multi-antenna base stations to hit the higher speeds. The 21-Mbit/s HSPA+ upgrade is the fastest that the wireless technology can be cranked with software -- rather than hardware -- updates.