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T-Mobile flips on LTE switch in 116 cities total

The country's No. 4 carrier says its 4G LTE network is reaching 157 million people, well toward the company's year-end goal of 200 million.

T-Mobile executive Neville Ray talks up the company's expansion of its 4G LTE network at its July event in New York City.
CNET/Sarah Tew

T-Mobile USA is getting its fast network out to U.S. cities fast.

The country's fourth-biggest mobile carrier said its 4G LTE network now reaches 157 million people across the U.S., beating its midyear goal of 100 million people, and is live in 116 metropolitan areas.

The company "friggin' smashed that goal," Neville Ray, T-Mobile's chief technology officer, said at an event Wednesday in New York.

While T-Mobile was late to the game in regard to launching an LTE network, it's been quick to deploy it. The network is now available in cities including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, Atlanta, and Miami. The company expects to deliver nationwide 4G LTE network coverage by the end of the year, reaching 200 million people in more than 200 metropolitan areas.

Ray said the top 22 markets are now covered, and the company will reach its year-end goal early.

It's an impressive pace compared with Sprint's slow rollout.

T-Mobile was the last of the four major carriers to launch a 4G network.

Ray also touted the speed of the network itself compared with those of competitors.

"The other guys are scrambling around for more spectrum, while we bolt on the MetroPCS spectrum," he says.

Carriers have been jockeying over spectrum, buying up wireless frequency to gird themselves for a possible shortage as demand for data-heavy smartphone usage climbs and the carriers build out their networks to meet it. Spectrum was a key target of AT&T's failed bid to buy T-Mobile in 2011 for $39 billion. But with the collapse of that deal, T-Mobile got a breakup fee that included spectrum and a roaming agreement worth $1 billion.

As it has launched LTE in select markets this year, T-Mobile has been filling out its lineup of phones that work on the speedy network, but the carrier far lags its rivals in deployment.

Also Wednesday, T-Mobile said it was adding the Xperia Z from Sony and the Nokia Lumia 925 to its lineup. In addition, T-Mobile is providing Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 users with an LTE software update.

Last month, the company confirmed to CNET that the Xperia Z would go on sale "in the coming weeks" exclusively at T-Mobile.

The Xperia Z debuted at CES in January.

A pillar of T-Mobile's strategy lately has been getting more handsets, especially those that work on the LTE network, including getting the iPhone on its network at long last. It previously sold many of its phones without subsidies, putting it at a sharp disadvantage to other carriers.