AT&T Adds 12 LTE Cities as 4G Goes Global

AT&T's LTE deployment is well ahead of its schedule as the operator adds another 18 markets Wednesday, bringing its total people covered to 250 million.

The carrier now expects to cover nearly 270 million Americans with LTE by the end of the year and 300 million by the end of next year, although that may happen sooner rather than later given its current rollout pace. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) says its LTE network will be substantially completed by the summer of 2014.

New markets launched today include: Durango, Co.; Elmira, NY; Appleton, Fond du Lac, and Oshkosh, WI.; Kaui, HI; Poplar Bluff and Sikeston, Mo.; Pottsville, PA.; Terre Haute, IN.; and Burley and Twin Falls, ID. The carrier now covers 488 markets with LTE, exceeding its original target of 400, and up from only 135 markets covered this time last year.

According to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) 's latest numbers, also announced Wednesday, 251 LTE networks in 93 countries are now commercially launched. In the past year alone, LTE was launched in 29 new countries, representing 45% growth for the 4G technology. The GSA says China is the newest market, following China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL)'s commercial launch of its LTE TDD network. (See: APAC Fuels 4G Action.)

Why this matters
2013 was clearly the year of LTE for most mobile operators. The GSA says that nearly half of the global total of LTE networks in service will have been launched in this year alone. Next year, the competition will move from focusing on coverage to how fast the network is through LTE-Advanced and network upgrades, where it can roam to, and what features it has, including HD Voice and VoLTE. From an infrastructure perspective, the operators will be focused on building out their LTE networks with small cells and carrier WiFi.

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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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