Playing Catch Up?

tmoblackSo… it’s clear to many of us (especially given that they’re the only provider in the U.S. offering android phones at the moment) that T-Mobile has being playing a bit of catch-up to get their 3G network up and running. This has just left me sad and disappointed being that I’m a T-Mobile customer… as are the rest of you U.S. Android users.

The biggest surprise in all of this is that T-Mobile has consistently proven itself to be a leader when it comes to smartphones in general. In offering BlackBerries, any number of Window Mobile devices or their very own Sidekick, T-Mobile has demonstrated that it gets it. It understands the role that these phones will play in the future of mobile communications and beyond. That’s why it’s been so surprising that they haven’t had better coverage on their 3G network.

Now as for me, I’m one of these guys who have to aim about twelve times before I’ll fire. Everything has to be just so-so and I have to be confidant that I’ve got all my bases covered. So the way I see it, you would want to make sure you had the best network in place before you put the best phones out there. Well as I said… T-Mobile has proven that it gets it and we just got more proof of that recently.

My guess has long been that T-Mobile’s late-to-the-game thing had to do with the fact that they were trying to be prepared for the next next-generation network and recently, I’m very proud to say, they proved me right. T-Mobile announced that they are planning to roll out their new 21Mbps HSDPA 3G coverage in 2010. That’s right… this means the T-Mobile data network will be nearly three times faster than AT&T’s service at only 7.2Mbps. I wonder what this will mean our beloved Android phones. The network with the most commitment to Android with the fastest data network… I like!

It looks like T-Mobile, unsurprisingly, has been less interested in playing catch-up and more focused on playing a little leap frog.

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  • I love it!

  • Rizo

    So does this mean that all current 3G cities will automatically get these speeds? I'm in Salt Lake and don't want to wait for another extra year after everyone else. We just got 3G last week.

  • Tom

    Will this new 21Mbps HSDPA 3G work with our existing 3G phones or will it require new hardware?

    • rob3rtx

      it will required new hardware. most handsets right now top off at 7.2Mbps well need manufacturers to make them 21Mbps.

  • Nathan D. Cole

    I've got a call in to T-Mobile to get some clarification on some of your questions. Thanks Guys!

  • Ben

    I recently purchased two myTouch 3G phones for my wife and I through a local T-Mobile store in Mesa, AZ. The experience on the phones was amazing in my opinion. The call quality was excellent and the data speeds seemed to me very good. I had a Verizon phone previously and was never impress with it's data speed. I didn't use the Verizon phone for any web surfing, but things like uploading photos SMS or whatnot seemed slow to me. I have since returned the phones for another reason specific to the store we bought them at (luckily within the 14 days and because of the issues didn't pay 1 penny for anything (service or phones)). Anyway, at this point we're going to wait for the Sprint HTC hero and see what their service is like. From what I understand through, in theory anyway, the max speed of sprint is about 3.1mbps while T-Mobile in my area is 7.2mbps. Can anyone clarify/substantiate/refute this? If nothing else, I'll know later in Oct how the speed and service compares…at least in my area.

  • Chris

    Well, the 3G data coverage maps still represent false data, so I'm not convinced that HSDPA will mean anything for a long time. Also, be assured it will cost extra $$$ to get on HSDPA. No free lunches.

    How's that for a Monday pessimist ?

    • Nathan D. Cole

      Pessimistic! 🙂

    • Wow that IS pretty pessimistic, but at least you're right. I hope it's no extra cost

  • Nathan D. Cole

    I'm not a Sprint user so I can't really speak to the realized speed and service, but I can say that T-Mobile has been rankend number one in customer service by J.D. Power and Associates five times in a row. Sounds like you must have had a bad experience none-the-less.

    • I've not had a bad experience in dealing with customer service on T-mobile. On Sprint, the phone company I'd had for years before then, that was anything but true. Just letting you guys know, sprint is a big bag of annoying.

    • Ben

      Their 1-800 number customer service was excellent, however the local store service was horrible…I was quoted a 1-year contract price three times, by three different employees of +$50 phone. (i now know it's $100) Anyway, they weren't willing to honor their prices. Which wouldn't have been a big deal, but they didn't even apologize and one employee was very rude about it.

      Anyway, per the suggestion of the rep on the 1-800 line, we returned the phones and some accessories we'd purchased and canceled everything. We were going to turn around and purchase from my companies direct discount webpage, but the next day we read about Sprint's Hero, so here we sit…gonna try that out.

    • Great customer service was the main reason I moved to T-Mobile from Cingular(at the time). As far as I'm concerned, (since the rest of my family is still on AT&T) customer service hasn't changed for the better at all. I thank T-Mobile very much for their great customer service and that still remains as the biggest reason I'm with them

  • Jonny

    You neglected to include the most important fact in all of this. T-Mobile is ramping up to HSPA+ because they don't have a plan to move to LTE. That could end up being a problem. Do we really want to play catch-up with all the other wireless providers each time a new generation of wireless technology is developed?

    • Nathan D. Cole

      Most of the major carriers consider HSPA to be a foundational step toward LTE. AT&T, Ericsson, and others have all said they plan to use HSPA as a way to smooth the transition to LTE. HSPA does not negate that possiblity and in fact is part of the roadmap for most, if not all, of the major carriers. T-Mobile generally does not make announcements too far in advance. I'm sure they have LTE in their sights.

      • Nathan D. Cole

        HSPA+ that is

  • Nathan D. Cole

    I'm still waiting on an official response from T-Mobile. So far as hardware is concerned though, it looks like it will most likely require a hardware upgrade. It's somewhat strange considering that on the carriers side, it is primarily a software upgrade. At any rate, I would suggest that this isn't really a big deal. I think the limiting factor to some of this stuff is really the speed and memory capacity of the device itself. I would imagine it might be difficult for the G1 or myTouch 3G to handle a significantly higher amount of traffic. I would probably want to upgrade my device anyway. If you're reading this post and actually care about it, you're probably something of a geek like myself. In that case you'll be getting the next cool toy sooner or later anyway. 🙂

  • tarheelhatr

    What matters is the backhaul, a gigabit router hooked up to the lowest tier of DSL will provide a slow connection regardless of the router speed.

  • Troy

    Before Android there was no viable reason for T-Mo to invest in the faster network. In one month 1million+ handsets and the data to go with them gave T-Mo a boost of 25-35 million dollars a month for data coming in.

  • BigHeat

    The other point to consider in the "lateness" is that T-Mobile USA purchased the 3G bands years ago, but the US Government failed to actually free up the spectrum for some time. That was probably their largest problem from a timing perspective.

    As for the increased speed via HSPA+, I believe that the devices must be built to support the higher speeds. Think of it like 802.11b and g. "B" devices will work on "G" access points, but only at "B" speeds. It is still good news for all 3G devices as it should mean more "pipe" for everyone to share. Not to mention I could be wrong about the handset hardware requirement – maybe all HSPA equipment will go as high as the network will let it.

    Finally, it is my personal opinion that the Sprint buyout option is heavily related to being ready for 4G. Not only will they have higher HSPA speeds during the transition, but they acquire all of Sprint's time and expertise already invested in 4G. The only problem with that theory is that WiMAX may not be the smart technology investment at this point in the game.

    That is all.

  • ch3wt0y

    You don't seem to understand that faster 3G isn't what's needed most for TMO — wider coverage areas for 3G should be their focus. You're excited, understandably, about 21Mbps (although no way is your existing phone going to go that fast), but the problem I have is that it's really hard to justify switching from Sprint's EVDO to TMOs 3G given that I can get on Sprint's EVDO just about everywhere.

    I went to a state park in Indiana with my wife's G1 for Labor Day, and the dang thing was back on EDGE almost the entire time, which makes the 'smartphone' features useless. In the 30 minutes it took to bring up a map of my destination on her phone, I was already there. By comparison, my Sprint Mogul running Google Maps brought up the same map in <30 seconds, including the time it took to find the satellites.

    I'm excited about the hero coming to sprint, but I'm more excited about the sholes coming to VZW (hoping for better-than-HTC hardware and good 3G coverage).

    • BackInAction

      I'm not sure I understand your last comment, I thought Sprint and VZW share the same 3G coverage? Or is it that you want a non-HTC phone and good 3G and your only hope is VZW? Whereas the other non-HTC phones are on TMO.

  • I just hope they start covering West Virginia soon. I've been out here for college this past month, and having no coverage by T-mo has been a freaking nightmare. I'm on roaming all the time, and have to use wifi to get any data, since T-mo charges 15$/mb on their roaming data plan.

  • Too bad I am just outside of the current 3G area. Maybe the expansion will go on.

  • Tmobile always seems to be playing catch up and in 3g arena… At least they aren't too expensive.


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  • nice.. Thanks for sharing..