Interested in learning what's next for the gaming industry? Join gaming executives to discuss emerging parts of the industry this October at GamesBeat Summit Next. Register today.

T-Mobile Uncarrier event

It’s a year of late firsts for T-Mobile: The fourth-place carrier just launched its LTE network, and it finally received the iPhone a few weeks ago.

But even though it’s been late to the party so far, T-Mobile could be one of the first to offer the 5G wireless technology LTE Advanced.

“I think we’ll probably be able to move faster [to LTE-Advanced] because we have the latest hardware in place,” said Yasmin Karimli, head of T-Mobile’s radio network and evolution strategy, in an interview with VentureBeat last week. “Others may have hardware that’s two years old, so they may have to rip and replace.”

While it’s unclear what other carriers will need to do to upgrade to LTE Advanced down the line, it will most likely involve swapping out some of their older infrastructure. In this particular case, being a bit slow may be better for T-Mobile in the long run.

The latest LTE Advanced specification calls for simultaneous download and upload speeds of up to 300 megabits per second, around three times faster than LTE’s current theoretical speeds (theoretical, as in you’ll never actually see that in the real world). LTE Advanced could end up performing much faster once it’s actually rolled out — it’s based on the ambitious IMT-Advanced specification, which called for maximum speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

T-Mobile’s LTE network is currently up and running in seven cities, and the company expects to cover 100 million people by the middle of the year and 200 million by the end of 2013. While I had the chance to briefly test out T-Mobile’s LTE service during its New York City launch event, the company only lit up the LTE network for that particular event. Karimli tells me T-Mobile plans to get LTE going in NYC by this summer.

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Learn more about membership.