T-Mobile Quietly Preparing LTE Network for BlackBerry Z10 Delivery

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-03-18 Print this article Print

There have been a few scattered reports of BlackBerry Z10 users encountering T-Mobile LTE signals in New York and other areas. Clearly the company is in the midst of a massive rollout, and as they turn on their LTE cell sites, even for testing, somebody finds them. While it seems incredibly ambitious for T-Mobile to roll out its LTE service essentially all at once, the company has in fact been planning for this for some time. In 2012, the company upgraded its backhaul to Gigabit Ethernet or faster for all of the sites that will support LTE. Then it refarmed much of its HSPA+ spectrum to 1900 MHz. Part of the reason for the refarming effort was to attract users with iPhones and other devices, but it was also to free up the spectrum that T-Mobile needs for LTE.

Another factor that allows T-Mobile to make its LTE rollout happen so quickly is that the company has worked with its partners to develop a combination radio/antenna module that can be put into action quickly and easily. While it’s not quite plug-and-play, it can be done very quickly.

This sort of quiet launch is something that T-Mobile has done before. You’ll recall that the company launched its 1900 MHz service in downtown San Francisco close to the Moscone Center during Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference so that iPhone users could make use of it. By the time T-Mobile actually wanted to talk about the refarmed spectrum, it was nearly done.

You can expect much the same thing with regard to the LTE launch. If you have an LTE-capable device currently running on T-Mobile, such as one of those newly enabled Galaxy Note II devices, or if you have an iPhone 5 or a BlackBerry 10 device, then keep an eye on the communications flag at the top of your screen. You could see LTE show up at any time.

But the official word is that it won’t happen until March 26, when T-Mobile holds a press event in New York to announce the availability of LTE service along with the start of BlackBerry Z10 sales. By then, T-Mobile should have completed the nearly unbelievable task of launching LTE for nearly half of the U.S. population. The company should be covering nearly two-thirds of the population by the end of 2013. Considering how massive this rollout is and how ambitious the schedule, it’s no surprise that some T-Mobile LTE signals are leaking out here and there.


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