Carriers

CTIA 2011 guessing game: What to expect from AT&T [OPINION]

March 18, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

AT&T

AT&T Logo

AT&T Wireless was late to adopting Android, but we’ve seen with the Motorola Atrix 4G and HTC Inspire 4G that AT&T is serious about delivering some of the best Android phones. No, AT&T capping its Android 4G phones is not a good sign for the future, but I’d hedge my bet that is just a hangover of their previous poor decision-making.

Is less bad the best that we can hope from AT&T Wireless this year? No. CTIA 2011 is set to begin next week, and we’re currently trying to guess what carriers have on tap. AT&T made a big splash during CES and won’t be relying on that buzz for much longer. Android will have an important presence, so here’s what I think you can expect.

LOOKING IN MY CRYSTAL BALL

There will be a new phone announcement for sure. AT&T claimed it would have a dozen Android phones this year, so there are still several Android phones for AT&T in the pipeline. My money says that the LG Optimus 3D, Optimus Black, or Samsung Galaxy S II will be announced for AT&T. I spoke with some reps from LG at Mobile World Congress and they said they had yet to confirm the Optimus 2X or 3D with any U.S. carrier. I get the feeling one of LG’s new Android phones will make it to AT&T. And since I think the Samsung Galaxy S II is going to be a flagship phone, I’m guessing that AT&T could be among the first to announce it.

AT&T will also make a big deal out of its network. The 4G fiasco was a bad PR move, but the LTE rollout scheduled to begin mid-year should be a focal point. AT&T will talk up speed and answer questions about what will separate it’s “real” 4G LTE network from the “fake” HSPA+ and WiMax of T-Mobile and Sprint.

I’m also expecting to hear something on tablets since AT&T hasn’t been very forthcoming with its Android tablet plans. Of course, they don’t have to with the iPad selling faster than the network can stock it. Still, I’m expecting to hear two tablets announced. AT&T already announced at CES that it would carry a Motorola Android tablet (probably the XOOM) but it also hinted at “additional LTE tablets” to come in the later half of the year. My money is that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 or 10.1 will be that additional LTE tablet.

CTIA starts on Monday, so get ready to hear more about the availability of 4G in your city and which tablets and phones will run on the network.