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T-Mobile Flips on HSPA+ 3G in 24 New Cities

While Sprint has short-shifted to fourth gear with WiMax, T-Mobile remains dedicated to pushing the gas pedal to the floor in third with HSPA+ 3G. On Wednesday, the carrier will throw the switch on HSPA+ towers in 24 new cities, including Portland, Minneapolis and Baltimore.

The total list of cities now reaches 45, with double that expected by the year’s end, to blanket a total of 100 cities, and 185 million Americans, with coverage. For the moment, T-Mobile still just barely lags behind Clear for high-speed wireless coverage. The WiMax carrier, which also provides WiMax for Sprint, currently covers 50 markets.

T-Mobile has been advertising – to the ire of AT&T – that its HSPA+ network delivers 4G-like theoretical speeds of up to 21 mbps down and 5.7 mbps down. Even with real-life download speeds that T-Mobile’s senior director of engineering Mark McDiarmid claims are closer to 5 and 8 mbps, that puts the network performance right on par or faster than Sprint and Clear’s WiMax service. Our own 4G tests seem to bear out – but stay tuned for a more detailed comparison now that HSPA+ has reached our fair city of Portland.

To coincide with the additional launch cities, T-Mobile also announced the new webConnect Rocket 2.0 USB laptop stick, which lets laptop owners tap full HSPA+ speeds. The $50 modem should perform identically to the first webConnect Rocket (which will be phased out), but offers a new swiveling USB hinge.

Even without the new hardware, T-Mobile claims 3G customers using any of the 16 3G devices it currently offers should notice speed improvements. The carrier’s first true HSPA+ smartphone will be announced later this summer, to be followed by an updated HSPA+ version of the G1 in the fall.

The full list of new HSPA+ cities includes:

  • Austin, TX
  • El Paso, TX
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Waco, TX
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • Lafayette, LA
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dayton, OH
  • Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Greenville, SC
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Portland, OR
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Wichita, KS.

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