Who has the Fastest U.S. 3G Right Now? T-Mobile

T-Mobile may have been late to the nationwide wireless broadband game, but it didn’t forget the story about the tortoise and the hare. In fact, it rewrote the story — it started as a slow turtle, but right now, it’s the fastest 3G rabbit we have. The carrier today announced that its entire 3G footprint is now lit up for the faster 7.2 Mbps HSPA service. Devices that don’t support the faster speeds will back down to the standard 3.6 Mbps service, but a fair amount of recent phones and broadband modems can take advantage of the faster network. Even the 15-month-old T-Mobile G1 is able to use the faster wireless pipe. While it’s true that T-Mobile offers a smaller geographical coverage area than competitors, it has the fastest wireless 3G network for now. And even with a smaller coverage area, the company says that over 200 million Americans are within its 3G data network.

Looking ahead, T-Mobile is poised to zip ahead even further in this wireless race. Next up for this year is a move to 21 Mbps HSPA+, which is considered to be 3.5G, and of course, backwards-compatible to 3G and EDGE as needed. By the first half of this year, T-Mobile expects to upgrade its data network to these even faster throughputs. I was lucky to get a preview of the future HSPA+ speeds with some hands-on network testing last month — it was liberating to experience wireless downloads that were faster than my DSL from early 2009.

With faster speeds and more T-Mobile coverage in my area — which I only recently found out about — this just might push me over the edge for a Google Nexus One (s goog) later today.