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Is T-Mobile Going to be the First Carrier to Roll Out ‘5G’ LTE?

April 22, 2013 - Written By Alexander Maxham

We all know how late T-Mobile is with rolling out their LTE network. But because they weren’t the first carrier to jump on LTE, they were able to see what mistakes were made with Verizon’s network. Who remembers all the LTE outages Verizon had when their network was just getting built? Now that T-Mobile is rolling out LTE across the country, currently only in a few markets. T-Mobile could be one of the first carriers to roll out 5G wireless technology LTE advanced.

Here’s what T-Mobile’s head of Radio Network and evolution strategy said to Venture Beat in an interview last week:

“I think we’ll probably be able to move faster [to LTE-Advanced] because we have the latest hardware in place,”

“Others may have hardware that’s two years old, so they may have to rip and replace.”

So far we don’t know what other carriers will need to do to transition from 4G LTE to LTE Advanced down the line. But we may see T-Mobile and Sprint be some of the first ones to roll out LTE Advanced, as they’ll have more up-to-date hardware. Most likely it’ll just require carriers to swap out some of their older infrastructure. So here is where being a bit slower might be a big advantage for T-Mobile in the long run.

The latest speeds for LTE Advanced show simultaneous speeds of 300mbps upload and download. That’s three times faster than the theoretical speeds of LTE. Current LTE is supposed to theoretically max out at 100mbps. Although in most places we see maybe half of that at best. LTE Advanced is supposedly going to perform much faster once it’s rolled out fully. Which is based on the ambitious IMT-Advanced specification, which calls for maximum speeds of 1gbps similar to Google Fiber.

T-Mobile currently has LTE available in 7 cities, but is hoping to get to 100 million people by the middle of the year, and 200 million by the end of 2013. That’s a big goal for the country’s 4th largest carrier. Let’s see if they can live up to it. I’ve got my fingers crossed that T-Mobile will also improve their signal strength in areas that need it. That way more customers can actually switch over to their new Simple Choice plans and not give up their better coverage on Verizon or AT&T.