Testing T-Mobile's 4G LTE

We put T-Mobile's fledgling 4G LTE network and iPhone 5 to the test.

iPhone 5, T-Mobile, 4G LTE
Just how fast is the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile's 4G LTE network? Ariel Nunez/CNET

T-Mobile just took a bold, new step by shredding the contracts for its plans plus launching its new 4G LTE data network . But what kind of speeds can you really expect to see on the carrier's hot, new devices? Judging from what I observed at T-Mobile's splashy press event in New York, apparently quite a bit.

Let's be clear, though; this testing was done on a special network set up just for this press conference. That means that the data performance I measured is likely much faster than what you'd see in the real world.

For instance, only the devices in the room, and perhaps lucky T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Note 2 owners in New York who upgraded their software , could have possibly connected to this ad hoc cellular site.

That said, the performance I clocked was no less impressive. On the new iPhone 5 , which has been specially tuned to T-Mobile's 4G LTE and HSPA+ signal, I managed downloads at a zippy 20 Mbps or more. Upload throughput came in at respectable 10 Mbps as well.

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Moving next to the HTC One , I fired up the Oookla Speed Test app that T-Mobile thoughtfully preloaded and was treated to download throughput of 20 to 30 Mbps. Uploads were blistering, too, at a staggering 15 to 20 Mbps.

I also got my hands on the upcoming BlackBerry Z10 for T-Mobile as well. While I was unable to run network tests via the Ookla Speed Test app, since there isn't one yet for BlackBerry 10, I examined performance using the service's companion Web site.

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Like the iPhone 5, The Z10 pulled down approximately 20 Mbps in terms of data. I have a suspicion, though, that since the Web site felt sluggish, if I had used a true app, throughput would have been faster.

One big letdown, however, is that I wasn't allowed to test the Samsung Galaxy S4 , or even lay my hands on the device. A phalanx of PR folks and T-Mobile execs guarded the gadget as if it were made of solid gold and prevented access.

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Just how fast will T-Mobile's new 4G LTE infrastructure be out in the real world? We'll just have to find out when its full complement of compatible devices hits the airwaves and T-Mobile's LTE network unfurls in earnest this year.


 

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