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T-Mobile adds HSPA+ markets, new myTouch

Mon, 10/04/2010 - 8:10am
Monica Alleven, Wireless Week

T-Mobile USA today announced a new Android-powered myTouch smartphone and the expansion into more markets with its HSPA+ technology, adding cities like Denver, San Francisco and Phoenix to the footprint.

T-Mobile says the latest myTouch was designed to deliver "4G speeds" on T-Mobile's network, even though HSPA+ is not technically considered a 4G technology. Other operators, like Clearwire and Sprint, also call their services "4G," but mobile WiMAX isn't a standards-defined 4G service, either. Neither is LTE, which Verizon Wireless plans to commercially launch before the end of the year.

Mark McDiarmid, senior director of engineering and operations for T-Mobile USA, explains that the "4G" speed designation is more like a term to signify the evolution that has occurred in T-Mobile's network compared with earlier generations. And T-Mobile has at least one key thing in its favor when it comes to technology migrations: scale. According to 4G Americas, HSPA+ has been deployed in 73 live commercial HSPA+ networks across 39 countries.

Because there are so many HSPA+ networks around the world, manufacturers are able to build more devices that cost less and therefore are more affordable for the average consumer. In addition, T-Mobile figures it's in a good place in the technology evolution path, with HSPA+ offering ways to even faster theoretical speeds, like 42 Mbps in 2011.

With the expansion announced today, T-Mobile's HSPA+ network is now in 65 major metropolitan markets; it plans on being in 100 by the end of the year. The latest markets to be added are: Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss.; Denver; Huntsville, Ala.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Norfolk, Va.; Omaha, Neb.; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento, Calif.; and West Palm Beach, Fla. 

The G2 was T-Mobile USA's first HSPA+ smartphone, and the new myTouch is its second. McDiarmid says the carrier took a lot of time to make sure the devices would deliver the utmost in terms of browsing, integrated Web and taking advantage of the network.

The new myTouch, designed by HTC, features an HD camcorder and video chat functionality that enables customers to connect on the spot through T-Mobile's network or Wi-Fi. It has a front-facing camera, so customers can hold video conversations with friends and family who also have the new myTouch, another compatible device or a capable PC. 

The myTouch also features a 3.8-inch WVGA touchscreen display with virtual keyboard and Swype for text input, a second-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 1 GHz processor, a 5-megapixel camera and an integrated media player. It's powered by Android 2.2.

No release date was given for the new myTouch, but T-Mobile says it will be available in time for the holidays.

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