T-Mobile has taken its first public step in launching its LTE network as the carrier rushes to get the service ready for its launch of the BlackBerry 10 by the end of March. As of March 18, T-Mobile announced that it had released an over-the-air upgrade for the Samsung Galaxy Note II that will enable the device to use LTE in areas where it’s available as of that day.
T-Mobile’s other LTE-capable phone, the Nokia Lumia 810, will get a similar OTA update in the very near future, a spokesperson told eWEEK in an email. Currently, T-Mobile has acknowledged that LTE is up and running in Kansas City and in Las Vegas. But reports on the company’s user forums claim that it’s also running in San Diego, Calif., San Antonio, Texas, and perhaps Austin, Texas.
In a prepared statement provided to eWEEK by a company spokesperson, T-Mobile is rolling out LTE everywhere at once and is expected to be ready by the end of March, as predicted in eWEEK last year.
“Our LTE rollout is moving at breakneck speed and will be available to customers in time for the launch of the new Blackberry Z10 by the end of this month,” the statement read. “We’re on track to have 100 million Americans covered by LTE midyear and 200 million people with LTE by the end of 2013. This is in addition to the blazing-fast 4G experience we give customers right now, covering 220 million people,” the T-Mobile spokesperson’s email read.
The BlackBerry Z10 does support LTE on Band 4, which is the LTE band that T-Mobile is offering. Most of T-Mobile’s customers will get 20 MHz bandwidth access to LTE, but a few will initially get a slower, 10 MHz slice. A source at T-Mobile told eWEEK that while the Galaxy Note II and the Nokia Lumia 810 will need software upgrades to make use of the LTE service, customers who take delivery of the BlackBerry Z10 will simply be able to use LTE when they’re in an area that has the service.
Meanwhile, users on T-Mobile’s support forums report success with using the Google Nexus 4 with LTE in San Antonio and San Diego. Apparently with the Nexus 4, all it takes is a menu choice, although I haven’t had a chance to confirm this, since I don’t have a Nexus 4.
However, I am testing a BlackBerry Z10, and I plan to go in search of LTE in and around the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area this week. These cities have traditionally been among the first to gain access to new wireless communications options, such as the 1900 MHz version of HSPA+, which has been running in the area for a while.