AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s first two Long Term Evolution (LTE) smartphones, the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) Vivid and Samsung Corp. Galaxy S II, will be hitting store shelves on Nov. 6, the carrier announced Monday.

At that time, the carrier will have its 4G network up and running in nine cities, with launches in Boston, Washington D.C., Baltimore and Athens, Ga., planned for Nov. 6.

AT&T says it is on track to cover 15 markets and 70 million Americans by the end of the year. The carrier also boasted that it has surpassed its commitment to offer 20 4G devices in 2011 and 12 Android devices. It now offers 22 LTE devices, primarily data dongles, and 21 Android smartphones or tablets.

Both the HTC Vivid and Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket are based on the Android operating system, but the Vivid will feature HTC's own Sense software. The Skyrocket comes just over a month after the carrier announced the 3G version of the same handset. The Skyrocket will retail for US$249 and the Vivid for $299, both with required two-year, tiered LTE data plans. (See Verizon Waiting for an LTE Galaxy?)

Why this matters
Device selection will be important in the operator battle for LTE dominance, but so will coverage, speed and latency. Right now, AT&T's main competitor Verizon Wireless covers 186 million people in 165 markets. Its LTE device portfolio includes more than 100 LTE smartphones, tablets and data dongles. Unlike Verizon, which falls back to 3G CDMA, however, AT&T has a faster high-speed packet access-plus (HSPA+) network for handoff. (See LTE's Immaturity in the US and 4G World 2011: Who Can Match Verizon's LTE Footprint?)

For more
Read up on LTE competition in the U.S. below.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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