Apple iPhone owners wanting to use their device on T-Mobile’s 4G network can now do so in three additional metropolitan areas. The operator announced Wednesday that the Washington, DC, Baltimore and Houston markets now support HSPA+ service on the 1900 MHz band. That’s good news for people in those areas that have an unlocked iPhone because their smartphone won’t be limited to slow EDGE speeds for mobile broadband. This trio of cities follows Kansas City and Las Vegas, which gained the same support lst month.
All of this is happening because T-Mobile is in the midst of a spectrum re-farm exercise: Switching its HSPA+ service away from the relatively unique 1700 MHz bands and over to 1900 MHz; the same frequency used by AT&T devices for HSPA+. T-Mobile is doing so in order to free up the 1700 MHz spectrum for its LTE network. While that network is some time off in the future — watch for it next year — the immediate benefit is for people wanting to use AT&T devices on T-Mobile’s network to save some money on their monthly service bill.
But this isn’t all about saving money if you’re an AT&T customer with an iPhone or some other HSPA+ device. According to T-Mobile CTO, Neville Ray, there’s a speed bonus.
In a blog post, Ray notes that “Our internal tests of unlocked iPhone 4S devices running over 4G (HSPA+) on our 1900 network recorded on average 70% faster download speeds than iPhone 4S devices on AT&T’s network.” Obviously if you have an LTE device, this scenario doesn’t apply, but it appears that in these particular testing areas, T-Mobile likely has support for 42 Mbps HSPA+ while AT&T doesn’t yet.