AT&T's new LTE-ready Adrenaline (left), HSPA+ ready Shockwave (middle), and pre-paid service-ready USBConnect 900  (Source: AT&T)

T-Mobile's pre-paid pricing also leaked this week, and it doesn't look very competitive.  (Source: Engadget)
Change is in the air for broadband cards

AT&T this week aired a trio of new USB broadband modems.  The first is the USBConnect Shockwave from Sierra Wireless offering HSPA+.  HSPA+ is a so-called "3.5G" technology, which offers faster uplink and downlink speeds.

AT&T's Michael Woodward, vice president of the company's Mobile Phone Portfolio, Mobility platform, and Consumer Markets, comments, "With the planned deployment of HSPA+ technology later this year, combined with the continued rollout of expanded backhaul, AT&T will have increased our 3G download or upload speeds multiple times in five years.  We have purposefully planned our path to LTE to create a wireless network where the transition from 3G does not give customers wireless whiplash."

LTE is 4G (fourth generation) wireless technology, that promises much faster speeds that 3G, or even 3.5G technologies.

Mr. Woodward's statement seems curious, given how fast AT&T plans to try to jump to LTE versus more gradual rollouts of WiMAX and LTE by Sprint and Verizon, respectively.  AT&T's rollout of HSPA+ later this year, will be rapidly followed by an LTE deployment in mid-2011.

AT&T's second announced device -- AT&T USBConnect Adrenaline from LG -- is LTE capable.  Whereas the Shockwave stick is free with 2-year data contract, the Adrenaline will cost you $49.99.  Both prices are after rebate.  

AT&T also announced a new contract-less USB broadband modem stick, the USBConnect 900 by Huawei.  The stick can be used with AT&T's DataConnect Pass pre-paid service.

That service offers one day or 100 MB of data (whichever comes first) for $10, one week or 300 MB for $30, and 1 month or 1 GB of data for $50.

Speaking of pre-paid services, T-Mobile's upcoming pre-paid plan was leaked this week when its training slides hit the internet. T-Mobile's rates MB-wise are the same as AT&T's, but it's a bit more generous with the time, giving users a whole week for the 100 MB pass (versus one day with AT&T) and a whole month with the 300 MB pass (versus one week with AT&T).  The 1 GB pass remains at a month, though.

One has to wonder who would pay for these pre-paid options -- particularly the high-allowance end, though, given that T-Mobile's contract plan is $39.99/month with a 5 GB cap.  AT&T offers a 200 MB plan for $35/month and a 5 GB plan for $60/month, so its pre-paid options stack up slightly more favorably in terms of price, due to its higher priced monthly plans.

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