"The next network evolution will arrive this summer with the addition of LTE in five markets -- Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and San Antonio," writes John Donovan, AT&T CTO, in a note posted on the operator's site this morning.
AT&T plans to add another 10 or more markets in the second half of the year and reach 70 million Americans with LTE by year-end. Donovan writes that AT&T "plans to add 20 4G devices to our robust device portfolio this year, with some of those being LTE capable."
AT&T doesn't specify whether the operator will be using 700MHz or 1700/2100MHz AWS spectrum for the initial deployment. There are also no details on prospective devices or download speeds that will be offered. AT&T recently showed off LTE downloads at nearly 29 Mbit/s, although averages are likely to be much lower on a loaded network.
Why this matters AT&T will finally go head-to-head with major rival Verizon Wireless with an LTE network of its own, albeit one with a much smaller footprint than Big Red's. AT&T is currently marketing its 21Mbit/s 3G network as "4G" and -- per Donovan's note -- plainly plans to continue offering HSPA+ devices and service under that banner as well.
Verizon launched its LTE network in 38 cities in the U.S. last December. The operator plans to extend coverage to more than 185 million potential subscribers in 175 markets by the end of 2011. (See Verizon Speeds Up LTE Expansion .) Of course, this could all change when -- or if -- AT&T's US$39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile US Inc. is approved. AT&T says that the buyout will allow it to blanket 97 percent of the U.S. with LTE over time.
For more Read more on AT&T's LTE drive:
- AT&T's LTE Tests: The Lab Is Not the Real World
- AT&T Looks From iPhone to LTE to Increase Subs
- AT&T's LTE Plans Provide Clue to iPhone 5 Launch
- AT&T: Expect More 4G from T-Mobile Buy
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile