T-Mobile has decided to call its speedy HSPA+ network 4G, instead of 3.5G, and is now selling the T-Mobile myTouch 4G and Dell Inspiron Mini 10 4G for tapping into it.
T-Mobile officials are calling their HSPA+ network "4G," despite
previously describing it as "3.5G." And to complement what they are now
branding "America's Largest 4G Network," the officials announced the
expansion of its 4G mobile broadband service to six additional cities,
as well as the availability of the T-Mobile myTouch 4G smartphone
and the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 4G netbook.
To get the word out, T-Mobile began airing a nationwide television
ad Nov. 2 that piggybacks on Apple's "I'm a Mac" campaign. In the spot,
a beautiful brunette introduces herself as the myTouch 4G, while a
handsome young man - with a heavy, older balding guy literally clinging
to him, "the old AT&T network" -introduces himself as the Apple
"That'll slow you down," says the brunette of her companion's load,
going on to explain that, while the iPhone 4 can video chat wherever
there's WiFi (at "like, say, an airport," adds the bald guy), the
myTouch can video chat "practically anywhere," without needing WiFi.
(The ad can currently be viewed on YouTube
The big question is how T-Mobile can call HSPA+ 4G, "when it's not 4G,"said Technology Business Research analyst Ken Hyers.
"I think that there's two semi-valid responses to that," Hyers told
eWEEK. "4G has technically not been defined by the International
Telecommunications Union. But that kind of sidesteps the argument. They
say their speed is equivalent in a mobility environment to what you
could expect from, say, WiMax. So yes, it's not what we think of as
genuine 4G, high-speed broadband, but nonetheless it is much faster
than [traditional 3G.]"
In a Nov. 2 press announcement, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray played a
bit lose with the definition, stating that "4G is about performance."
"Today T-Mobile's HSPA+ network is delivering 4G speeds that match
and often beat WiMAX and are readily comparable to what early LTE will
deliver," Ray said. "Our 4G network is capable of theoretical speeds up
to 21M bps and we have seen average download speeds approaching 5M bps
on our myTouch 4G phone in some cities with peak speeds of nearly 12M bps."
Additionally, Ray added, "The footprint of our 4G service is not something that competitors are going to match anytime soon."
In the statement, T-Mobile says Chicago, Colorado Springs, Ft.
Wayne, Ind., Louisville, and Raleigh-Durham and Wilmington, N.C., are a
part of that footprint, which now extends to 75 metropolitan areas and
will cover 200 million people by the end of the year.
Calling the network 4G, said TBR's Hyers, is a way for T-Mobile to
explain to consumers that they have a "genuine high-speed wireless
network," though it will likely also open the door to some interesting,
retaliatory advertising from Verizon, which will want to explain the
difference between HSPA+ and its LTE network, scheduled to go live
during the fourth quarter.
"They've definitely put a target on their backs," Hyers said of T-Mobile.
HSPA+ or 4G, the T-Mobile myTouch 4G can take advantage of the
network's swiftness. It runs the Android 2.2 operating system and
features a 3.8-inch WVGA screen with Swype gesture text input, a
front-facing camera for video chatting, a Genius Button and
voice-activated features powered by Dragon Dictation, WiFi calling and
a 1GHz processor. It'll be available in the United States only, at
T-Mobile retail and online stores, and Best Buy, Costco, Radio Shack,
Sam's Club and Target for $199.99 with a two-year service plan, after a
$50 mail-in rebate.
The Dell Inspiron Mini 10 4G, says T-Mobile, is the first netbook
with built-in access to its 4G network. The Mini 10 4G runs Windows 7
Starter Edition, and includes a "fast processor" for surfing, emailing
and the like. With a two-year contract, T-Mobile has priced it at
$229.99 - or $449.99 without a contract.
"Fudging the difference" between 3.5 and 4G could cost T-Mobile some
"street cred," Endpoint Technology Analyst Roger Kay told eWEEK.
"But that having been said, in today's Fox-oriented information
atmosphere, in which facts are optional, the ad -simplifies' things for
the end user," said Kay. "After all, you get fast data, and all that
clap-trap about international standards is just mice whispering. My
guess is that the campaign will essentially work. It's smart and edgy."