Carriers may be guilty of wanting just a little too badly to call their networks 4G, blurring the lines of where we stop referring to services as 3G and consider them part of a new high-speed network. What it all comes down to, though, is speed; bits-per-second are bits-per-second, no matter how you spin them. Keeping that in mind, T-Mobile talked about its HSPA+ plans at the CES today, looking forward to a future with speeds as high as 672Mbps.
The first step in the evolution of T-Mobile’s network is going to be the introduction of 42Mbps service this year, up from the 21Mbps the company claimed to deliver last year. Because of the ability to push HSPA+ farther and farther as more capable hardware is released, the carrier sees itself stepping up to 84, 168, and possibly even 672Mbps speeds.
42Mbps service should reach about 66% of T-Mobile’s network by the end of the year, if the company’s efforts go as planned. Of course, to take advantage of those speeds, you’ll need a phone compatible with the upgraded network, as well. Real-world speeds aren’t going to hit the 42Mbps maximum, but may deliver sustained performance as high as 25Mbps.
Further out, T-Mobile may consider going LTE, but those really are “long term” plans in the company’s case, as HSPA+ is going to be its dominant technology for years to come.