While T-Mobile's customers may be thrilled with the company's ever-expanding HSPA+ coverage, their competitors are not. AT&T, who is also rolling out HSPA+ this year, says that T-Mobile is "misleading customers" by insinuating that HSPA+ is a 4G technology.
Instead of putting their eggs in the long-term 4G basket, T-Mobile's electing to give its users the speed they crave by pumping up its existing HSPA 3G network to HSPA+. This promises theoretical speeds of up to 21Mbps as opposed to HSPA's limit of 7.2Mbps, and to be sure, when we tried it out in Philadelphia, T-Mobile's HSPA+ was pretty damn fast.
But today, a press release announcing the expansion of HSPA+ into areas of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island was titled "4G Speeds From T-Mobile Now Broadly Available", and the release repeatedly used "4G speed" in reference to the HSPA+ network. From that press release, here's Neville Ray, T-Mobile's senior vice president of Engineering and Operations:
Our competitors are asking consumers to pay more for faster wireless service with limited coverage and very few capable devices...In contrast, T-Mobile is already delivering 4G speeds today to customers and we continue to make major leaps in expanding our HSPA+ mobile broadband footprint.
AT&T isn't hearing any of that noise. Company spokesperson Seth Bloom said:
I think that companies need to be careful that they're not misleading customers by labelling HSPA+ as a 4G technology...We aren't labelling those technologies as 4G.
Technically T-Mobile might not be wrong in saying that its customers using HSPA+ can expect to find speeds comparable to those we'll see on the 4G networks of the future. But as most of the country doesn't even know what the hell 4G is, much less has had a chance to try it out themselves, it does seem a bit disingenuous to peg HSPA+ to 4G. Better to just call it what it is: super fast, supercharged 3G. [Fierce Wireless]