T-Mobile USA's soft launch of its 4G LTE network could become official as soon as March 26.
The operator rolled out an LTE upgrade for its Galaxy Note II "phablet" on Monday and said that users could get on the network where they see an LTE signal. Users are seeing signals in New York City and near Washington, DC now. Las Vegas and Kansas City are expected to be among the launch markets.
Multiple reports now suggest that T-Mobile will officially unveil its LTE network on March 26.
Laptop Mag reports that it tried Galaxy Note II over an unloaded 4G LTE macro site. The smartphone-cum-tablet registered "download speeds as high as 58.8 Mbit/s and uploads as high as 25.5 Mbit/s."
T-Mobile's LTE speeds are likely to vary greatly depending on the channel sizes it has available though. LTE release 10 running on 2x5MHz channels will likely top out around 25 Mbit/s and offer less than that as more users come onto the network.
Why this matters
An LTE network in the big cities is fast becoming table stakes for a national carrier in the U.S. Like Sprint Nextel Inc., T-Mobile will likely initially struggle with small channel sizes in some major markets that bottleneck its LTE speeds. The closure of the MetroPCS merger and its aggressive spectrum re-farming program, however, will give it more bandwidth to play with over time.