4G phone service is not part of T-Mobile's 2011 business plan, but a supercharged 3G network will allow it to compete with Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T.
Although we’re certainly not going to look at any increase in mobile broadband speeds as a negative, one thing to remember is that, technically, even the likes of Verizon’s LTE service and Sprint’s WiMax aren’t really 4G.
For want of a better term, their speeds only equate to 3G+. That means if you’re a company like T-Mobile without a real 4G rollout plan going into 2011, one way to catch up to the competition is not by building new 4G towers, but by supercharging the existing network to the utmost limits of existing 3G throughput. And, in fact, that’s exactly what T-Mobile has up their sleeves: they’re currently working on charging their current 3G HSPA standard to make it as fast as 4G, reaching speeds of 650Mbps.
How’s T-Mobile doing it? They’re teaming up with Nokia Siemens to develop a new 3G antenna array that is similar to the MIMo tech used in WiFi routers. By having a single device picking up and broadcasting multiple frequencies on multiple antennas, they can fuse those different signals picking up different bandwidth pipes together for even faster throughput.
A pretty bold plan, indeed. Of course, if it works with 3G, it should work with 4G too. How fast could Verizon’s LTE network get if they tried the same multiple antenna approach?