AT&T 4G LTE heads south: first five LTE markets named

May 25, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka



“I thought AT&T already had 4G,” quipped Sprint CEO Dan Hesse during the CTIA 2011 roundtable. Hesse was referring to AT&T calling its HSPA+ network “4G” even though the speeds that the network reached weren’t really worthy of the title.

However, AT&T will deliver a network more fitting of the 4G name when it launches LTE service this summer. John Stankey, AT&T president of business solutions, reveals that AT&T 4G LTE service will launch this summer in the following markets: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. An additional 15 markets will see LTE service by the end of 2011.

AT&T has yet to confirm how much it will cost to use an LTE device, but it has already signaled that tiered data plans are in the cards when 4G LTE launches. According to FierceWireless, Stankey also boasted that AT&T would have real-world speeds that are competitive with current 4G networks of its rivals Sprint (WiMax), T-Mobile (HSPA+), and Verizon (LTE).

It should be noted that the competition AT&T provides will be dwarfed by those rivals. Verizon has delivered LTE in more than 50 markets and its 4G coverage map will reach 175 markets by the end of 2011. Sprint has several major metropolitan areas running 4G WiMax, and T-Mobile boasts the largest 4G network with its HSPA+ service that just received a theoretical boost, as well.

AT&T has opted to launch in five test markets, four of which are in the south, while Verizon has been more aggressive in reaching more regions of the United States. But its efforts to increase spectrum and acquire T-Mobile USA would greatly extend the reach of the AT&T 4G LTE network long-term. Look to see more information about which cities will receive LTE service later this summer.