It's no secret that T-Mobile's way behind when it comes to mobile data services. Everyone else browses the Web from their phones over speedy EV-DO and HSDPA connections while we TMob subscribers (yep, I pay their bill every month) are stuck with EDGE. To be fair, T-Mobile leads the way when it comes to cheap minutes and cellular/WiFi integration, but they've really got to get it going in the mobile data space.
According to Unstrung, they may be poised to do just that when it comes to 4G next-generation data speeds. Even though TMob still hasn't rolled out their 3G network (coming this Summer ... they swear it!), some industry types think that T-Mobile's acquisition of a healthy chunk of AWS spectrum in 2006 means that they're in good shape to make a quick leap from UMTS (3G) to LTE (4G). Quick by cellular industry standards, anyway.
What's that all mean in lay terms? 3G speeds are fast for handheld devices but not quite on par with what we're used to from DSL, Cable, and T1 lines on our desktop and laptop computers. 4G speeds should be much closer to true "mobile broadband," opening the door to all kinds of always-connected services including VoIP internet phone calls and Web access from smartphones and laptops at WiFi-like speeds, but without the need to hunt for an open WiFi network.
Sprint's much hyped Xohm network will use WiMax to offer 4G services. We're all still hoping for a nationwide Xohm rollout beginning this summer, but nothing's really been confirmed on that front just yet. Verizon and AT&T have stated that they'll be using LTE for 4G services, and are looking at 2010 and 2012, respectively, as launch dates in the U.S. Without getting all technical about it, it looks like T-Mobile's acquisition of AWS spectrum means that they could beat VZW and AT&T to the punch in taking the leap from 3G to 4G. That could be huge for the U.S.' 4th largest provider, who currently thrives on low cost voice plans and solid customer service, but really needs to get into the high speed data game before it's too late.