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Summary:

The latent LTE radio in T-Mobile’s Galaxy Note 2 handset makes more sense now: The company has an update that enables the faster broadband speeds, just in time for the new network. Google’s Nexus 4 also has hidden LTE capabilities. Hmm….

grey-galaxy-note-2

When T-Mobile officially lights up its nationwide LTE network later this month, it won’t just be new phones that can use it. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2, which T-Mobile started selling to customers back in October, will boast fast LTE mobile broadband speeds too. How can that be? Early looks at the phone showed inactive LTE radio hardware inside and now T-Mobile is flipping the switch with a software update.

On Monday, the network operator published a support document stating that it is now pushing the update over the air to Galaxy Note 2 handsets. If a customer prefers, they can get the update with a PC by using the Samsung Kies program. The new software brings the 5.5-inch smartphone up to Android 4.1.2 and also enables support for the carrier’s LTE network.

T-Mobile is currently in the midst of an aggressive LTE rollout. While rivals Verizon and AT&T started LTE network upgrades over the past few years, T-Mobile instead built up its HSPA+ capabilities. While that sounds like a poor strategy, it may yet pay off. In areas without T-Mobile LTE coverage, most devices would then fall back to HSPA+ 42 service, which can be nearly as fast as LTE, depending on location.

Google Nexus 4Regardless, T-Mobile is moving quickly to enable LTE service now, having started the effort within the past year. The company expects that its LTE infrastructure will provide service “in the vast majority of the top 50 markets and 20 MHz service in 75 percent of the top 25 markets.” New York City is surely among the first of the new LTE markets — joining Las Vegas and Kansas City — given that an eagle-eyed GigaOm reader accessed T-Mobile’s LTE network this past weekend there.

Maybe there’s LTE hope for the Nexus 4 after all? That device also supports LTE on the 1700 MHz band, which just happens to be what T-Mobile is using for fast mobile broadband as it moves HSPA+ service to a different frequency.

  1. I am hopeful for Nexus 4 LTE, but not optimistic. The latest update from Google actually disabled the LTE radio in the N4. Interestingly, I can’t find anything on the FCC Equipment Authorization Site that says the Note 2 has been certified for LTE bands, but it could be they just haven’t made those documents public yet.

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  2. Just got done asking tmobile rep about the LTE on Nexus 4 Here is conversation

    Brandon
    I recently just got the Nexus 4 its an outstanding phone not one issue
    the question i have is this goog released an update shutting off the LTE
    chip inside because it was not made aware to the FCC. Now towards the
    end of May you will be rolling out your LTE service. Will my Nexus get
    and update like your samsung galaxy note 2 is getting to enable LTE
    chip? Thanks

    %Mark
    Hi Brandon. You certainly have a cool and an outstanding device. We are
    currently upgrading our coverage to provide you a more reliable service
    and undergoing refarming to some areas. Rest assured that our service
    will provide LTE coverage in the near future and your device will be
    able to connect to.

    Brandon
    So theoretically i should get an update from google enable that LTE
    chip and be able to connect to your soon to be LTE network presuming it
    is availible in my area

    %Mark Yes. Correct.

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    1. One thing I’ve learned is that most of the customer service agents from all phone companies are misinformed or just clueless. I had a Motorola cliq back in the day and I could call 5 times and get 5 different answers if you remember that debacle. I would not hold your breath on the LTE being activated on the N4 regardless of what that rep said. Try asking 4 more times and see what they say.

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  3. I don’t even know why a majority of people get excited about this news seeing as how whenever a speed increase rolls out its ALWAYS for people only in large metropolitan areas. If you happen to be in a midsize or lower populated city you miss out. About the only people who would even care about news like this are travelers or those already in large cities like NY,LA, etc…

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  4. Thx, just saw notice for upgrade and wanted 2b sure. I’m in!

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  5. I caught a LTE signal here in South Texas just after receiving the 4.1.2 update for the Galaxy Note 2. I got 14.34mbps down 10.12mbps up. Very spotty im sure its on testing.

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  6. Just got an update for my note 2 for enabling lte network here in columbus ohio, lte should be rolling out pretty soon here. All in all 3g have been working for my wife factory unlock iphone 4s also, which runs pretty darn fast. I cant wait till this happens my note 2 clock @ about 15 mbps on hspa plus 42 here so I cant imagine on lte and hopefully over 25 mbps or so.

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  7. I JUST got the update done to my phone and it’s AMAZING! Just when I thought I was in love and drooling at the capacities and split screen updates to the Samsung Note 2, this update has made this phone an even stronger, and buttery smooth powerhouse. The speed is amazing-pages at a blink, load completely. The phone’s animation is buttery-smooth and fluid. When doing swype, it’s better at word predicting too-so far no more bad type-oh’s even when writing in another language-in my case, Spanish. If you haven’t done it already, UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE!!! :)

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  8. Got my update this morning here in Houston.
    Note 2 running on LTE after.
    Speed test up to 26.98Mbps

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  9. I’m pulling in 20-25 Mbps down and 8-12 Mbps up in Las Vegas.

    Although there areas still HSPA+. Some ares still 2G!!!!!

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