New Samsung Galaxy to Use T-Mobile's Fast Network

The Samsung Galaxy S 4G will be the first smartphone to take advantage of T-Mobile's upgraded HSPA+ network with a theoretical downstream speed of 21M bps (bits per second), the companies announced on Thursday.

T-Mobile subscribers can already take advantage of the 21M bps (bits per second) technology with the webConnect Rocket and Rocket 2 USB dongles, but the carrier has not yet offered a handset that can use the high-speed network. T-Mobile didn't give much information about the Galaxy S 4G but said it will run Google's Android 2.2 OS and have a Super AMOLED touchscreen. Samsung's existing Galaxy phones were introduced last year with high-resolution Super AMOLED technology, and Samsung began upgrading the software of those phones to Android 2.2 late last year.

T-Mobile said more information about the Galaxy S 4G will be available in the coming weeks. A teaser page on Samsung's website shows a glimpse of a new Galaxy S and says "something big is coming" on Feb. 13 in Barcelona, where the Mobile World Congress will be taking place. Samsung launched some products at the International Consumer Electronics Show that may give hints about the new device.

HSPA+ is an evolution of 3G technology that is available in versions with different top speeds. T-Mobile says its 21M bps technology is available now across the entire network, reaching 200 million people in 100 major metropolitan areas, and it is now deploying 42M bps technology. By the end of this year, 140 million potential customers will have access to the 42M bps network, the company said.

However, those speeds are only theoretical, and even T-Mobile has acknowledged users aren't likely to see them in the real world. For example, T-Mobile executives have said the 42M bps network should actually provide a top speed of about 30M bps, and tests in San Francisco by PC World showed the 21M bps network topped out at about 8M bps. In some areas, the downstream speed was less than 1M bps in those tests.

The nation's fourth-largest mobile operator has drawn some criticism for advertising its network as 4G, a term usually associated with LTE (Long Term Evolution) and WiMax. However, the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) recently acknowledged the use of the term 4G to include a wide range of technologies.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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