- The combined company will deploy LTE to more than 97.3 percent of the U.S. population within six years of the merger closing. The geographic coverage footprint for this LTE deployment corresponds to the geographic coverage footprint AT&T expects to have by the end of 2013, plus additional T-Mobile USA sites.
So even if it completes the T-Mobile merger by early 2012, something that seems unlikely with the U.S. Department of Justice now involved, AT&T has given itself until 2018 to reach 97 percent coverage. (See AT&T: What It Loses Without T-Mobile.)
The 2013 footprint that AT&T mentions is going to require updating 44,000 nodes with LTE. On its own, AT&T expects to cover 70 million Americans with LTE by the end of 2011, 170 million by the end of 2012 and 250 million by the end of 2013. (See AT&T Building Islands of LTE in 2011.)
LTE rival Verizon Wireless expects to cover 185 million people with the 4G update by the end of 2011. (See Verizon Speeds Up LTE Expansion .) In the meantime, AT&T users can fall back to 21Mbit/s HSPA+ 3G. The letter states that AT&T expects to cover 97 percent of the population with that network by the end of 2012.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile