T-Mobile Launches Blazing Fast LTE-U Across Six U.S. Cities

T-Mobile likes to call itself the "Uncarrier," a self-imposed nickname that references its propensity to do things differently than other wireless carriers. And to T-Mobile's credit, it does march to the beat of its own drum. Where the complaints come into play is with network coverage and speed. That is something T-Mobile has been working on—just two months ago it acquired the largest chunk of 600MHz spectrum with a $7.99 billion bid, and now T-Mobile is pounding its chest over being the first national wireless provider to make LTE-U available to customers.

LTE-U, or LTE-Unlicensed, is essentially a faster version of 4G LTE. It uses publicly available 5GHz airwaves—the same that are typically used by home Wi-Fi routers— to bolster existing LTE capacity to give a speed boost what T-Mobile claims is already the fastest and most advanced 4G LTE network in the United States. Claims of being the fastest and most advanced aside, there is a real benefit to LTE-U.

Image Source: Flickr (Mike Mozart)

The neat thing about LTE-U is that users do not have to configure anything on their compatible smartphone, it just works. On the flip side, there is just one compatible smartphone at the moment—Samsung's Galaxy S8. If you own one and live in one of half a dozen locations where T-Mobile has flipped the switch—Bellevue, WA; Brooklyn, NY; Dearborn, MI; Las Vegas, NV; Richardson, TX; and Simi Valley, CA—you should see faster downloads and Internet connectivity.

T-Mobile also announced that it is the first to complete a mobile broadband data session live in the field using LTE-Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) on its commercial network. The field testing began in Los Angeles and showed blazing 741 Mbps download speeds using 80MHz of aggregated spectrum.

"LAA is the just the latest example of how T-Mobile is innovating the way forward. While our competitors scramble to deal with the way unlimited data plans are slowing down their networks, we’re already moving on to what’s next," said Neville Ray, CTO at T-Mobile. "This means that the fastest LTE network—that’s T-Mobile—will only get faster. I hope AT&T and Verizon like eating our dust!"

While note quite on par with next-generation 5G, the promise of LTE-LAA is hundreds of megabits of second by combining open 5GHz wireless with licensed airwaves. In some cases, that could mean faster Internet connectivity that what you have at home (save for Gigabit connections).

Thumbnail Image Source: Flickr (Chris Potter)