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T-Mobile says its 4G network in L.A. is twice as fast as before, theoretically

May 24, 2011 |  3:54 pm

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T-Mobile announced Tuesday that it has doubled the "theoretical peak download speed" of its 4G network to 42 megabits per second in the Los Angeles area, as well as a number of other major cities.

Along with that, T-Mobile is launching its first product capable of running downloading any data at 42 Mbps -- the T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 data stick.

The Rocket 3.0, a USB dongle that allows laptops to connect to the T-Mobile 4G network, goes on sale  Wednesday for $99, after a $50 mail-in rebate, and a two-year data plan.

HERO - Rocket 3.0_EMAIL Data plans run at a rate of $29.99 a month for 200 MB of data, $39.99 for 2 GB, $49.99 for 5 GB and $84.99 for 10 GB, said Sam Sindha, T-Mobile's vice president and general manager for the Los Angeles area.

Existing T-Mobile 4G customers -- whether using smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices -- won't ever see download speeds of 42 Mbps because their devices were not designed to hit such data rates, said Graham Crow, a T-Mobile spokesman.

However, whatever a user's peak speed was before should be seen more often because of the 4G network upgrades, which include modifying existing cellular towers and adding in new 4G towers as well, Crow said.

"An advantage of our HSPA 4G network is that it is backwards compatible," he said. "So all smartphones will get a lift. They might not see higher peak speeds than before, but they'll see higher speeds more consistently.

"The way I like to explain it is that, this is like adding an extra lane to the Harbor Freeway. It won't make your car hit a higher top speed, but because of the extra lane you'll be able to hit high speeds more consistently, more often, rather than being slowed by traffic as much as before."

The regions of the Los Angeles metropolitan area that will be affected, according to T-Mobile, include downtown L.A. near the Staples Center, East L.A., Compton, Beverly Hills, Universal Studios Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Anaheim Stadium, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara and Six Flags Magic Mountain.

To build a 4G network in the L.A. region capable of 42-Mbps speeds, T-Mobile invested $183 million into its network in the area last year, and about $46 million this year so far, Sindha said. More 42-Mbps-capable devices are on the way too, he said.

T-Mobile previously had just three metropolitan areas that were capable of hitting theoretical speeds of 42 Mbps but is now at 55 markets, with population centers such as Atlanta; Boulder and Denver, Colo.;  Detroit; Austin, El Paso, Houston and Dallas, Texas; Phoenix; Seattle; Miami; and New Orleans, T-Mobile said.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo, top: A T-Mobile billboard near the Bellevue, Wash., headquarters of T-Mobile USA advertises the 4G network. Credit: Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Image, bottom: T-Mobile Rocket 3.0. Credit: T-Mobile

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