By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 25, 2013 08:59 AM EDT
UPDATE (6 AM EST Apr. 30): According to Sprint, T-Mobile's assertion that other carriers may need to "rip and replace" equipment that's two years old does not apply, as Sprint is currently rollong our "new, state-of-the-art network equipment nationwide."
"While LTE Advanced is often thought of as a single release (release 10), it is actually 8-10 features that will span multiple releases. We already have several component features in commercial deployment and are adding more in 3Q and 4Q 2013," Sprint told Mobile & Apps in an emailed statement. "Examples of features we have commercially deployed today are the 4 Branch MIMO and SON features. Again, we have more features planned for the summer and plan to deploy even more in Q4."
T-Mobile was the last to join the LTE party, but this might actually allow it to be the first to offer "5G" LTE Advanced.
T-Mobile is the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. and the last of the four major telecoms to deploy 4G LTE cellular technology, but its late arrival may in fact become its advantage.
T-Mobile seems to be catching up to rivals by launching its LTE network and finally adding the iPhone to its lineup. While the carrier was the furthest behind in terms of LTE deployment, it seems T-Mobile planned a bigger jump, leapfrogging all the way to 5G LTE Advanced wireless technology.
"I think we'll probably be able to move faster [to LTE-Advanced] because we have the latest hardware in place," Yasmin Karimli, head of T-Mobile's radio network and evolution strategy, told VentureBeat in an interview. "Others may have hardware that's two years old, so they may have to rip and replace."
It's not clear at this point just what the other carriers will need to upgrade to LTE Advanced, but it will likely entail swapping out some of their older infrastructure, just as Karimli suggests. In this case, arriving late to the LTE party may prove to be a blessing for T-Mobile in the long run.
The latest specification for LTE Advanced requires simultaneous download and upload speeds of up to 300 megabits per second, which is roughly three times faster than the current LTE theoretical speeds. LTE Advanced may even turn out to perform much faster when it actually rolls out, as it is based on the IMT-Advanced specification that calls for maximum speeds of 1 gigabit per second.
Speculation suggests that if 5G becomes the norm by 2014, which is very likely, 1Gbps downloads could be a regular thing soon after. T-Mobile, meanwhile, is planning to expand its LTE coverage to 100 million people by June, and double that by the end of the year. T-Mobile's LTE network is currently serving seven cities.
If T-Mobile manages to be the first carrier to offer 5G LTE Advanced connectivity, it may have a few months all to itself in the new playground until rivals catch up.
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