The irony is palpable. Last I checked, T-Mobile's HSPA+42 network performance goes toe to toe with Verizon's LTE network performance, and typically bests ATT's LTE network performance.
With pings consistently below 100ms and speeds often higher than 10mbps - even by Verizon's own metrics (5mbps-12mbps expectations for LTE), T-Mobile's HSPA+ network performs quite admirably
A little productive thought on the matter (rather than focusing on the "3g" buzzword) would go a long way. Even mild logic would dictate otherwise. Moreoever, a read of the very openly available 3GPP release documentation would go even further - you know, considering HSPA+ and LTE are developed actively, side-by-side, by the exact same standards body - again, the 3gpp. The differences in LTE and HSPA+ are quite small indeed. The real-world differences have more to do with deployment strategy than anything. A perfect comparison is Sprint's young LTE network. They chose to deploy 5mhz MIMO (nearly min req for LTE deploy) and peak out at 37mbps. T-Mobile's HSPA42 network maxes out at 42mbps using 10mhz, but without MIMO. If they used MIMO they'd double their speeds. If Sprint used 10mhz they'd double their own speeds.
But your belief is truly that no matter what, LTE is better than HSPA+? And it's worth the constant headaches, higher cost, and worse battery life just to support 2 more networks?
Let's check the speed tests from 2 iPhone5's. One's on an LTE network. The other is on HSPA+.
So with the LTE>HSPA bullshit out of the way - how, praytell, is Google going to "infringe" or "undercut" Verizon and Sprint's closed ecosystems? While LTE may be a 3GPP open access standard, CDMA2000 sure as shit requires Verizon and Sprint device-approval to work on their networks in the first place. You don't play by CDMA operator rules? You don't get on CDMA operator networks. So you either play their game, or you play your own game.
When you look at the day-to-day reality, T-Mobile's HSPA+ network performs. It leaves piddly little CDMA in its 3g dust. By sticking with an HSPA+ standard that is the primary technology used by some 800 operators in 220 countries rather than burdening themselves with a CDMA/LTE architecture only supported by 2 carriers on different frequencies in 1 country, Google makes the smart move to keep the pricing on their phone rock-bottom. $350 out of the gate for those specs is ridiculous. Moreoever, they ensure that they don't continue to get bad press after dealing with months of delays of Android updates on the Nexus S 4g with Sprint, as well as months of delays of the LTE Galaxy Nexus on Verizon as well as Sprint.
Hell, check out XDA's Galaxy Nexus forum. The LTE versions are a running joke. You have some obscure problem with your Nexus? Not getting timely updates? Getting bad battery life? 50-1 odds you're running an LTE Galaxy Nexus - the handicapable step-brother of the GSM Nexus.--
"What makes us omniscient? Have we a record of omniscience? ...If we can't persuade nations with comparable values of the merit of our cause, we'd better reexamine our reasoning."
-United States Secretary of Defense (1961-1968) Robert S. McNamara