Can T-Mobile's 4G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

Can T-Mobile's 4G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

Summary: T-Mobile continues to build out their 3G HSPA+ network and it performed well with downloads when compared to Verizon's 4G LTE network.

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I have been trying to find a good way to connect wirelessly with my MacBook Pro to carry on conversations with Kevin Tofel so we could record the MobileTechRoundup podcast and as you know I haven't been having great luck with LTE on the ThunderBolt using the WiFi hotspot utility. The Charge was working until the date bug kicked in (and still has not been solved yet) so I continued to look around. T-Mobile sent along their new T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 USB stick with support for their latest 42.2 Mbps network upgrade. You can check out a few photos in my image gallery and read about my experiences below.


Image Gallery: Check out a few photos of the T-Mobile Rocket 3.0. Image Gallery: Rocket 3.0 retail package Image Gallery: Rocket 3.0 in hand

Features of the T-Mobile Rocket 3.0

The T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 is a fairly compact USB stick with a USB male end that rotates down from the body of the device. The retail package comes with three changeable faceplates in blue, purple, and black. While the Rocket 3.0 is designed to be used with the 42.2 Mbps network, it also supports T-Mobile 3G and EDGE data networks and WiFi. A microSD card is integrated into the Rocket 3.0 so you can store documents, images, videos, and more and use the Rocket as a USB storage drive too. The dimensions are 3.4 x 1.1 x 0.5 inches and 1.1 ounces.

The software is loaded on the Rocket 3.0 and includes both Windows and Mac OS X utilities. There are two tabs so you can manage either WiFi or T-Mobile data connections and it is straight forward and easy to use.

The Rocket 3.0 has a full retail price of $199.99 with a $100 discount when you sign up for a 2-year contract. Available monthly plans include 10GB for $84.99, 5GB for $49.99, 2GB for $39.99, and 200 MB for $29.99. Plans include access to T-Mobile WiFi hotspots as well. There are no overage charges, but if you exceed the purchased allotment your speeds may be throttled down. It looks like the 5GB plan is probably the best for most people with moderate to heavy data needs while the 200 MB plan seems ridiculously expensive.

Performance results

I have been seeing 20+ Mbps download on LTE with the ThunderBolt and Droid Charge over the past couple of months and when you can get connected the speeds are amazing and addictive. Verizon's LTE is a 4G technology while T-Mobile's fast HSPA+ is still technically a 3G technology, with 4G marketing and partial performance, so I wasn't expecting too much from T-Mobile. I conducted several tests with both the Droid Charge and T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 connected to various servers with the SpeedTest.net site and application from Ookla. I was in both a LTE are with a strong signal and in an area where the 42.2 Mbps T-Mobile network has been rolled out and here are my results:
T-Mobile Verizon
Avg download speed (Mb/s) 19.46 18.37
Avg upload speed (Mb/s) 1.31 7.16
Ping (ms) 49.7 60.2
As you can see the T-Mobile HSPA+ network beat Verizon's LTE in my tests for download speeds while upload speeds were pathetic. I generally do not upload much when I am mobile while downloads are the primary usage of my mobile data, especially when you use it for streaming music, videos, and more.

Conclusion

The T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 performed quite well and if you are a T-Mobile customer in a 42.2 Mbps network area you may want to consider picking one up for your mobile data needs. I look forward to seeing a WiFi hotspot device with support for 42.2, but will stick with my Droid Charge and LTE for now.

Topics: Mobility, Networking, Verizon, Wi-Fi

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16 comments
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  • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

    Yeah, there's only one problem though... T-Mobile's Network Sucks and they Lie about their coverage areas!
    slickjim
    • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

      @Peter Perry So you state Tmobile service sucks without evidence and state they lie regarding coverage areas. I have been with them 8 years and never once saw the company lie about coverage,tho in store sales people tend to vary in knowledge so Caveat Emptor.
      I live in a major Metro area, Providence RI and I still can't make calls on Verizon wireless or At&T wireless reliably but I keep checking every few years.
      Tmobile has always responded to my issues in a timely matter so clarification of the word sucks is in order.
      Mattster67
      • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

        @Mattster67 - T-M DID lie about coverage at my "weekend home" - so now you've heard of at least ONE incident. The only timely way they responded to my issue was to hurry up & send me the bill for "data use" (a measly 5 meg - took all day just to access email) that flowed at a 14.4 kbps rate. They really DO suck.
        Willnott
    • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

      @Peter Perry - You are absolutely correct. My experience of trying to use T-M was horrible, and they STILL insisted I had to "pay for the data I used" even though it was at a rate lower than dial-up! So much for their claim of a "money back guarantee"... Liars! Never again, no matter what happens between them & ATT, or anything else. Once burned, twice wary is apparently a saying they never heard.
      Willnott
  • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

    Holy crap those TMO results are sweet. Do they offer any MiFis with that kind of performance? I may have to look that up, I'll pay 50$ a month for 5GB with no overage charges... because I will go over lol.
    Bates_
    • Not yet, but I am sure it will be coming

      @Bates_ Only a USB stick at this time, which is what they have done before too. I imagine we will see a WiFi hotspot soon though.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
    • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

      @Bates_ - And, be sure they will find a way to bleed you! Caveat Emptor!
      Willnott
    • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

      @Bates_ I think you will enjoy the speed , but will be sorry when you go over your 5Gb limit. When you go over your limit your speed is reduced to an undisclosed speed. Some claim the reduced speed is 1x (dial up is faster than 1x)
      elt134
  • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

    Date Bug is fixed. I got a system update this A.M. on my Charge that seems to have taken care of it.
    Bowler_z
    • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

      @Bowler_z I got it last night and will also confirm that it fixes the hotspot date bug, as well as a lot of other things. Much snappier, no more browser lag.
      chadness
      • Dang, no update for me yet :(

        @chadness That is good to hear, but my Charge hasn't received anything yet. I will have to go search to see if there is a manual way to get the update since the WiFi hotspot is important to me.
        palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

    Those prices for such low data amounts make it moot. They have to have a plan for prepaid thats truelu unlimited for $50 a month or under to make it useful otherwise just doesnt make sense. i pay 440 a month for my evo on boost and can use 4G with no data limits and free wifi hot spot since im rooted. I know my speeds arent 42 mpbs but i can get about 7 or 8 and it costs me no extra costs.
    Fletchguy
  • My experience has been different.

    My T-Mobile "Rocket" 4G modem averages just 0.12 Mb/s down and 0.02 Mb/s up. The fastest download I ever measured was 0.16 Mb/s down, but I often connect at just 0.05 Mb/s down. The latter is competitive with old-fashioned dial-up, of course. I have found this modem/T-Mobile 4G service to be essentially unusable.<br><br>These dismal connection speeds are despite the fact that I have 4 bars of 4G signal strength and my computer is stationary. They are not a result of exceeding the data cap, either, as my cap is 3 GB and I have not managed to use even 100 MB of data since purchasing the modem.<br><br>The T-Mobile support team tries to be helpful and does not keep you on hold for very long. But, I am embarrassed to have to keep calling them. Their latest suggestion is that I try to find some location other than my home or office where I might use my computer (even though I have excellent 4G signal strength at both).
    trentreviso
    • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

      @trentreviso - same experience here, except the "hot line" techs were totally clueless about why the rate was so blinking slow - they never did help me a bit, and still insisted I had to pay for my "data" in spite of their "money back guarantee". Signal strength showed 3 or more bars all the time, but rate was always dismal. Go figure.
      Willnott
  • RE: Can T-Mobile's 3G network with Rocket 3.0 challenge Verizon's 4G LTE?

    I have Verizon, which the service has always been good to me.. But alot of people I know have T-mobile here where I live. They constantly lose calls, sound like robots, and 4g data speeds max out at 2-3mbs at full bars.. Verizon has yet not announced any LTE in my area anytime soon, which surprises me since I live by the #1 vacation beach in the U.S., with over 16 million people coming here throughout the year. But im waiting impatiently!! T-mobile has great phones, but their service needs quite a bit of work. If you look up tower maps, Verizon has 8 to every 1 of T-mobiles..
    Scottyb112
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