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T-Mobile and Sprint to roll out faster wireless Internet in L.A.

March 23, 2010 |  4:38 pm

T-Mobile customers in Southern California will see speedier mobile Web access in the next few months thanks to network upgrades that were announced Tuesday. The fourth-largest U.S. carrier named Los Angeles among the first cities where the HSPA Plus network will be established.

HSPA Plus is currently deployed in a few markets, including New York, Washington and Philadelphia, and will be available in L.A. before the middle of the year. T-Mobile plans to have 100 metropolitan areas covered by the end of the year.

The network will cover several areas in the L.A. region, including Long Beach, the San Fernando Valley and Orange County.

Sprint, too, announced some immediate plans Tuesday for faster Internet in L.A. as well as in Miami. The third-largest U.S. telecom gave no specific time frame, but the two cities are next on the list for 4G deployment, joining more than two dozen others.

In tests, T-Mobile's HSPA Plus has been found to be notably faster than the 3G networks that blanket most of the country -- depending on which carrier's Internet coverage map you're looking at. Jeremy Kost, T-Mobile's director of broadband products and services, said on the phone Tuesday that the technology rivals 4G speeds.

Whereas Verizon and AT&T seem to be eventually moving toward 4G, T-Mobile is putting its chips on a quick rollout of HSPA Plus.

Sprint has been pushing its 4G network, and countered T-Mobile's announcement with news of the third-largest carrier's first 4G-compatible phone, the HTC Evo 4G. The smart phone sports a 4.3-inch touch screen, a whopping 8-megapixel camera and a fast processor running a modified version of Google's latest Android operating system.

Dell-miniT-Mobile also unveiled a 3G netbook from Dell called the Mini 10.

Though some phones on the market today will see limited improvements from HSPA Plus, T-Mobile won't announce a phone compatible with the high-speed network until the second half of the year.

But those phones will be backwards-compatible with T-Mobile's 3G and Edge networks for areas without HSPA Plus service, Kost said.

Only the Web Connect Rocket USB peripheral can help computers take advantage of the imminent network upgrades. The accessory is available for purchase online.

Verizon is fuzzy on when exactly it will deploy its 4G network. (The nation's largest wireless carrier seems pretty content with its current 3G map.) AT&T is looking to have 4G next year. The second-largest U.S. carrier launched HSPA (minus the Plus) last year in some markets including L.A.

-- Mark Milian

Top photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images. Bottom: T-Mobile