T-Mobile USA Finishes Upgrade to HSPA 7.2

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T-Mobile USA has completed its deployment of a faster 3G technology across its national network, reaching more than 200 million U.S. residents with the high-speed data and voice system while getting ready to upgrade some areas to even higher speeds later this year.

The nation's fourth-largest carrier had promised last year it would finish rolling out HSPA 7.2 -- High-Speed Packet Access with a theoretical top speed of 7.2M bps (bits per second) -- by the end of 2009. The carrier announced Tuesday it had achieved that goal. The news came out just before Google introduced the Nexus One handset, which will be sold by Google and run on T-Mobile's network. The Nexus One supports HSPA 7.2.

While most mobile operators look toward LTE (Long-Term Evolution) as the next major generation of mobile data networks, 3G technology continues to evolve with higher performance and greater efficiency. Both AT&T and T-Mobile have said they will deploy LTE in 2011, a year later than Verizon Wireless, while upgrading on the 3G path in the meantime. AT&T said last year it would have HSPA 7.2 in at least six markets, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, by the end of 2009. The new technology will reach 90 percent of AT&T's network by the end of 2011, the company said last October.

While AT&T continues to roll out HSPA 7.2, T-Mobile this year will begin deploying HSPA+, which is designed for speeds of 21M bps or more. The carrier did not provide any details on the timing or location of its HSPA Plus deployments this year.

Verizon Wireless, which uses a different 3G system from AT&T and T-Mobile, plans to launch commercial LTE service this year. LTE has been demonstrated at speeds of more than 100M bps downstream. Real-world speeds on all mobile networks depend on local conditions and typically are shared among many subscribers.

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