CES 2011: AT&T Accelerates LTE Push

LAS VEGAS -- 2011 International CES -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will ramp up its Long Term Evolution (LTE) deployment plans to largely complete its network buildout by the end of 2013, CEO Ralph de la Vega announced today at AT&T's Developer Conference before International CES .

He attributed the expedited plans to tax incentives and policy changes that allowed it to up its capital investments, although pressure from Verizon Wireless may have played a role as well. De la Vega said AT&T has also extended its HSPA+ network to "virtually 100 percent" of its nationwide network, delivering speeds around 6 Mbit/s, which he expects to increase as backhaul deployments expand.

To complement its shiny new LTE network, de la Vega also promised 20 LTE devices in the second half of 2011, including smartphones, tablets, modems, and mobile hotspots, in addition to between five and seven HSPA+ devices in the first half of the year. Motorola will also introduce the first HSPA+ tablet running Android 2.2 in the second quarter of the year, with LTE tablets planned for later in the year. The new devices will sport operating systems from Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7.

Among these are three new HSPA+ smart phones from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) and Samsung Corp. , which their respective chief executive officers showed off on stage.

  • Motorola Atrix 4G: First up, Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha demoed the Atrix 4G, which he called the most powerful smartphone yet. The sleek touch screen features a dual-core processor, each CPU running at 1 Gigahertz; twice as much RAM as other smart phones; and a high-resolution display. It will also feature Moto's new Webtop app, which -- when docked -- turns a laptop with no CPU into a full Web browsing device.

  • HTC Inspire 4G: Rolling Stone already spilled the beans, but HTC CEO Peter Chou made the HTC Inspire 4G official. It's the handset maker's first device to support the next generation of HTC Sense, including a website that gives users granular control over their handset.

  • Samsung Infuse 4G: JK Shin, president and head of Samsung, showed off AT&T's thinnest smart phone with the biggest screen yet, the Samsung Infuse 4G. The phone features Samsung's next-gen super AMOLED Plus display and is optimized for entertainment and gaming.

Why this matters
AT&T already has the largest HSPA+ footprint in the U.S., and by expediting its LTE plans, it will prove a formidable competitor to Verizon. As CTO Jon Donovan pointed out, it has the advantage of having both voice and data running simultaneously with a speedy 3G network to fall back on where LTE is not available. AT&T is the only carrier to have announced plans for both HSPA+ and LTE, an advantage it will exploit.

For more
For more on AT&T's HSPA+ and LTE plans, check out the following stories:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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