AT&T Turns Up 11 More LTE Markets

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) turned up its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in 11 new markets over the holidays, bringing its total to 26 markets covering 74 million people at the end of 2011.

The latest launch includes big cities like New York, San Francisco and LA, as well as Austin, Chapel Hill, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Diego and San Jose. (See AT&T Boasts Smartphone Sales, LTE in NYC.)

Speaking at a Citigroup conference Thursday, John Stankey, president and CEO of AT&T Business Solutions, called 2011 the best year he's ever seen from an infrastructure perspective for AT&T. The additional markets means the wireless operator beat its goal of covering 70 million consumers in 15 markets by the end of 2011. (See LTE: Solidity & Uncertainity in 2012 and AT&T Hits 15 LTE Markets, Adds Another Tablet.)

AT&T also closed the year with more than 80 percent of its total mobile traffic on Ethernet backhaul, and Stankey said its 3G network performance has stabilized. Now, the wireless operator is focusing on turning customers' perceptions from neutral to positive, he said.

"We're on that path," Stankey added, noting that there was less than 1 percent dropped calls in all markets at the end of the year, although there are some geographic blackspots that still need work.

Of course, 2011 wasn't all sunshine for the operator, which was forced to abandon its acquisition bid for T-Mobile US Inc. , costing it billions in cash and spectrum. Stankey said AT&T execs have no regrets about their decision to pursue the merger and reiterated that it's unfortunate they didn't get it done. (See AT&T Drops Bid to Acquire T-Mobile.)

"Will keep doing what we did before," he said. "We'll step back and look for opportunities to change the industry ... move forward and grow. There's still a lot of runway."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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