T-Mobile to launch LTE in March, updates Galaxy Note II for LTE

T-Mobile USA confirmed it will launch its first LTE markets by the end of March. The carrier is also issuing a software update to its Galaxy Note II to allow the device to connect to its new LTE network.

Tmobile Galaxy Note 2 LTE

T-Mobile is upgrading the Galaxy Note II to support LTE.

T-Mobile's Tom Ellefson, the carrier's engineering vice president, confirmed to The Verge that the LTE launch is coming this month along with continued network upgrades that he said will boost the network experience for nearly every one of the carrier's customers. CNET also received confirmation that the LTE launch is coming this month.

T-Mobile said it late February that its LTE networks in Las Vegas and Kansas City, Mo., had been completed and were ready to be lit up. The carrier plans to cover 100 million POPs with LTE on its 1700 MHz AWS spectrum by mid-2013 and 200 million by year-end. T-Mobile has said that, with the AWS spectrum it will get if its merger with MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) closes, it will be able to launch LTE with 2X20 MHz spectrum channels in 90 percent of the top 25 U.S. markets.

The Note II is one of several T-Mobile devices that will connect to the carrier's LTE network. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) Z10 will likely launch with LTE, and T-Mobile has confirmed that the Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Lumia 810 will get an LTE software update. Rumors have indicated the Galaxy S III will also get an LTE software upgrade.

For T-Mobile, the launch of LTE is part of a wider network and branding strategy to catch up to its larger rivals and set itself apart. The company also plans to move exclusively to its Value plans, which do not offer traditional device subsidies. T-Mobile has also said it will be more aggressive in its marketing, particularly against AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), its erstwhile suitor. Further, the company has been busy refarming its 1900 MHz PCS spectrum to support HSPA+ services. 

According to PC Magazine, T-Mobile's refarmed 1900 MHz network now covers 142 million POPs in 49 cities, including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia. The faster service brings T-Mobile's network configuration more in line with AT&T's network, which should help T-Mobile in its marketing effort to attract iPhone customers to switch over (more than 2 million iPhone owners have brought their unlocked devices to T-Mobile). In February T-Mobile told FierceWireless that the refarmed network covered 126 million POPs in 46 metro areas.

In December at Deutsche Telekom's annual investor meeting T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said the carrier would have 170 million POPs covered with HSPA+ on 1900 MHz by mid-2013 and 200 million covered by the end of 2013.

For more:
- see this The Verge article
- see this CNET article
- see this PC Magazine article

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