[Update]: More details about the update can be found at T-Mobile’s support site here.
It looks like the first crop of users are just about ready to experience T-Mobile’s infant LTE network. The carrier — which gained a lot of monetary and digital capital through the failed merger with AT&T — is delivering an over-the-air upgrade to folks with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 starting today. That upgrade will enable the dormant LTE radios sitting inside, and although many won’t be able to take advantage of LTE right away — the service has been soft-launched in Las Vegas and Kansas City so far — it shouldn’t be long for many others to join in. T-Mobile is sticking to its guns on its rollout pace as it anticipates 100 million people will be drenched in the sweet Magenta signal by mid-year.
By year’s end, T-Mobile is expecting to have LTE out to over 200 million people, and the network will continue to expand from there to eventually cover most of T-Mobile’s 3G coverage area at some point in 2014. The future of data on T-Mobile’s network looks bright as early LTE speed tests are impressive. Averages of 55-60 megabits down and 18-20 megabits up are being pulled, though T-Mobile is only promising up to 20 megabits down and 10 megabits up for typical usage. Couple that with congestion and things could look much different by the time the network is finished. The carrier’s existent HSPA+ 42 fallback will give T-Mobile a nice edge in areas where LTE coverage is lacking.
Aside from the Galaxy Note 2 and a new LTE-equipped Galaxy S3 on its way, T-Mobile’s device strategy hasn’t been clear. We expect them to stuff LTE radios into any smartphone they can in the future, but the carrier is not ready to confirm their plans. At the very least we can expect high-end smartphones, tablets, and a smattering of hotspot devices to come with the radios necessary to take advantage of the super fast data. We imagine T-Mobile will want to have a nice variety by the time summer rolls around for a fresh wave of marketing so don’t be surprised to see that particular train getting steamed up soon.