T-Mobile preps for 21 Mbps Internet with new gadget

Faster wireless Internet — up to 21 Mbps — from T-Mobile is around the corner and expected to be available nationwide by the end of the year. It could launch even sooner here in Orange County. We’ll find out in two weeks when T-Mobile offers an update during the upcoming CTIA mobile show.

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To get ready for the speed jump, T-Mobile announced today that it now offers an HSPA+ USB Laptop stick, the webConnect Rocket. The company says that it’s also the nation’s first HSPA+ device, but that’s because the only other company going this speedy route is AT&T. Verizon Wireless and Sprint are working on faster 4G wireless technology like LTE (Long Term Evolution) and Wimax.

HSPA, short for High Speed Packet Access, is sometimes called Turbo 3G and offers wireless Internet speeds of up to 7.2 mbps. But add a plus sign and the speed jumps to 21 Mbps. T-Mobile is upgrading its 3G cell towers nationwide to add the faster technology.

I’m sure T-Mobile smartphone users everywhere are ready for the speed jump because the existing 3G Internet is more like 1 Mbps or slower. But if you feel 3G Internet is still slow, here’s some bad news: T-Mobile has already enabled HSPA 7.2 across its entire 3G network nationwide. The company, however, says it is still working to put the “necessary backhaul in place to support these faster speeds.” (AT&T, by the way, has also upgraded all of its network to HSPA and is working on upgrading to 4G technology.)

Nevertheless, many of T-Mobile’s newer smartphone users will reap the benefits of HSPA+ when it does become available because the phones and devices are backward compatible.  Here are T-Mobile’s existing 3G phones and devices that are HSPA capable:

  1. T-Mobile G1
  2. T-Mobile myTouch 3G
  3. T-Mobile myTouch 3G LE
  4. Motorola CLIQ
  5. HTC TouchPro 2
  6. T-Mobile Dash 3G
  7. Samsung Behold II
  8. T-Mobile webConnect USB Laptop Stick
  9. T-Mobile webConnect Jet
  10. HTC HD2

The Rocket goes on sale Sunday, March 14, for $99.99 with a 2-year contract. New Internet plans will be available beginning this weekend. Here are the new “Even More” plans and prices:

2-year contract:

  • $59.99/mo. for 5GB per month ($0.20/MB overage)
  • $29.99/mo. for 200MB per month ($0.20/MB overage)

No contract:

  • $49.99/mo. for 5GB per month ($0.20/MB overage)
  • $19.99/mo. for 200MB per month ($0.20/MB overage)

Unlimited nationwide T-Mobile HotSpot access is included in both plans and doesn’t count toward monthly data usage.

More on 3G, 4G wireless service:

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