T-Mobile was a little late to the mobile broadband game, but appears to be making up for lost time. They just announced the widening of their HSPA+ footprint, which offers mobile broadband speeds of up to 21 Mb/s (in theory). Actual speeds average more like 8 – 10 Mb/s – still quite impressive.

T-Mobile announced the mobile broadband offering is available in 24 additional markets, including Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Waco, Texas; Baltimore, Md.; Baton Rouge and Lafayette, La.; Birmingham, Ala.; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale and Jacksonville, Fla.; Greenville, S.C.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Indianapolis, Ind.; Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Portland, Ore.; and Wichita, Kan.

T-Mobile says its mobile broadband efforts now reach 85 million Americans, with plans to reach 185 million by the end of this year.

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T-Mobile is quite liberal with their mobile broadband product description, referring to it as 4G on several occasions. “T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network now offers 4G speeds to more people than any other wireless network in the country,” said Neville Ray, chief network officer for T-Mobile USA. That claim is subject to debate, since HSPA+ is generally considered a 3G technology.

T-Mobile would argue it’s the actual speed and experience that define 4G, not the underlying technology. To some degree – they are right. Consumers could care less whether it’s 3G or 4G, they just want faster speeds and wide coverage for their mobile broadband devices.

T-Mobile’s HSPA+ product (on paper at least) does rival the experience offered by the other current 4G option – WiMAX service from Clear, Sprint, and some cable companies. It should also stand up well to Verizon’s forthcoming 4G LTE offer.

Like all current 4G offers, device availability is rather slim. T-Mobile offers USB Modems for laptops that are HSPA+ compatible, but only one smartphone – the Samsung Vibrant – with one more compatible smartphone due later this summer.

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