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T-Mobile LTE Network Set to Start This Month

T-Mobile press announcement

[Photo Credit: T-Mobile]

T-Mobile has a great network for those who want to use, say, the iPhone, on an off-contract, prepaid agreement. Having now been a T-Mobile customer for four months, I can say that I’ve been extremely happy with using my iPhone 4S (and now the iPhone 5) on the new “uncarrier’s” network. Still, despite the fact that my calls are fine and my iPhone 5 experience has been wonderful, I still long to experience my iPhone 5’s 4GLTE capabilities.

To customers like me, T-Mobile is saying, “Hold on; LTE will be there, in the next several days.” It is already mid-month, and the end of the month is coming quickly — yet, T-Mobile says that its coveted LTE network will be up and running by March’s end. For many, LTE is the one thing T-Mobile has had missing (next to the iPhone) that would make the carrier a five-star competitor all around. At the December meeting with parent Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said that the iPhone experience was missing from the carrier. At the same time, T-Mobile also reported (three months ago) that it was working hard to improve its data speeds and bring LTE bands to its network. T-Mobile has strengthened its network for Android devices but has yet to carry Apple’s iPhone. As a result last year, the carrier lost 700,000 customers to other carriers who sold the iPhone 5 in their stores. It became evident to Legere and T-Mobile that the iPhone will prove just as integral to business and profits as Android’s smartphones.

I talked with a local T-Mobile representative last week when I picked up my iPhone 5, and he told me that the LTE towers were already set up in the area; T-Mobile was only waiting for the word as to when to turn LTE on for its customers. He seemed as though T-Mobile was waiting for the supposed Apple announcement in June at WWDC before turning on LTE, but word has come today that LTE will come at the end of March, some two-and-a-half to three months before the iPhone 5S announcement. T-Mobile will have a press conference event of its own on March 26, 2013 at 11AM EST in New York. CNET’s Brian Bennett believes that this event will mark T-Mo’s departure from contract subsidies, since the carrier’s teaser poster says, “We’re still a wireless company. We’re just not going to act like one anymore.” To make good on the carrier’s commitment, T-Mo pushed out 4G LTE software to its Galaxy Note 2 users yesterday, according to Brian Bennett of CNET.

This means that iPhone 5 customers who want to join T-Mobile may now be in a place to join the new uncarrier. T-Mobile is making a wise move to turn on the LTE towers now, although we do not know when the towers will turn on for each area in which the company has its network. As far as local times and dates, we’ll have to see. At the same time, it makes sense for T-Mo to prepare for the sale of the iPhone 5S; without LTE tower activation, customers will not be able to use their new iPhones on the network. The worst thing a carrier wants to have happen is that it turns away a percentage of customers whose newly-purchased iPhones will not work.

In recent days, T-Mobile has come under attack from AT&T, its direct competitor, due to T-Mo’s affordable, unlimited plan prices. AT&T issued ads against T-Mobile earlier this month claiming that T-Mo has 50% slower speeds and twice as many dropped calls as AT&T. In response, the Deutsche Telekom carrier responded with ads that stated things such as, “What keeps AT&T up at night? Apparently Us,” and “If AT&T didn’t think our network was great, why did they try to buy it?”. When T-Mo turns on its LTE towers, it will have the envy of AT&T for sure, since AT&T has made a fortune off of customers with it’s claim that “We are the nation’s largest 4G network. At the same time, those who have done their homework know that AT&T also charges $85-$90 (taxes included) for its cheapest phone plans — a slap in the face to many consumers who cannot afford such high phone bills each month.

For those who want to know about my love for T-Mobile, I will explain it like this: I currently have T-Mo’s “Truly 4G Plan,” which comes with unlimited voice, text, and data (no throttling of data speeds after 500MB, for example). When the LTE towers come on in my local area, I will be the first to enjoy 4G LTE. And then? I may call up a local representative and laugh at the fact that AT&T tried to sell me a “cheap” plan for $85-$90 per month.

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