AT&T Launches 4G LTE In Five Markets

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News Posted: Mon, Sep 19 2011 4:55 PM
Just a few years ago, as the LTE versus WiMax wars were being waged, there was a time when Sprint and Clearwire had well over a hundred WiMax deployments, which dwarfed its LTE rivals, who had zero.

Within the last year or so, Verizon and MetroPCS have gotten busy on the LTE front. MetroPCS launched the first LTE deployment in Las Vegas back in September 2010 and has been steadily increasing its reach. As of July, the company had about 8.9 million subscribers in markets including the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, and West Coast.

After dipping its 4G toes into the waters of Boston and Seattle barely two years ago, Verizon’s 4G LTE coverage has exploded to cover 117 cities around the country. The company claims that it now offers 4G LTE coverage to over half of the U.S. population.

Now, AT&T has announced an initial 4G LTE roll out to five metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. The company has plans for up to 15 deployments by the end of the year, which should cover around 70 million people. Perhaps, then, maybe a few more AT&T customers outside of the state of Texas will soon get the chance to enjoy the new 4G speeds, too.

AT&T is playing catchup with its LTE competitors, and it doesn’t sound like it will see anything resembling Verizon’s coverage any time soon; according to the charming video in its press release, AT&T won’t be offering widespread LTE coverage for several years.

However, AT&T is taking a page out of the T-Mobile playbook and touting its large HSPA+ coverage area as a benefit to its customers as it transitions fully to 4G. HSPA+ provides a sort of bridge between 3G and 4G performance and has often been deemed “3.5G”. The company purportedly provides HSPA+ coverage to about 80% of the U.S.

Even with HSPA+ making up some of the speed disparity between 3G and true 4G, AT&T’s customers aren’t going to wait around forever for the orange and blue to catch up with Verizon. Customer service hasn’t exactly been a strong suit of AT&T’s, and the company no longer has that lucrative iPhone exclusivity as leverage to keep disgruntled (or even ambivalent) customers renewing their service contracts.

It will be interesting to see if AT&T customers get the same kind of performance on its first five 4G LTE deployments that Verizon’s customers get on that company’s network.
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rapid1 replied on Mon, Sep 19 2011 5:31 PM

As with all the other national providers Atlanta is on the first round. My brother uses At&t with his wife, he is also an iPhone junkie (he also has an iPad 2) of course he is a musician as well, so Apple had him early lol. Anyway I can promise you he will be getting an iPhone 5 probably day 1. However; I don't think iPhone's will be doing any LTE dancing for now from what I have heard. If At&t does actually get to take over my provider T-Mobile (which I am actually starting to doubt with the DOJ, FCC, and seven state attorney generals, and of course Sprint all taking them to court over it) which I hope does not happen. So I will have no direct references personally.

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PKabir replied on Mon, Sep 19 2011 5:46 PM

I am more interested to see what cities are in the next round of LTE rollouts, I do think Nashville is higher on the list as it is the HQ of AT&T's internet division. Historically Ma Bell's service has been good in this area (Nashville). I am hoping that AT&T starts selling a bucket style of data. Otherwise I will move my parents to Verizon as the amounts of tiered data are higher on Verizon, and network coverage is much more.

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AKwyn replied on Tue, Sep 20 2011 5:06 AM

As with all the other national providers Atlanta is on the first round. My brother uses At&t with his wife, he is also an iPhone junkie (he also has an iPad 2) of course he is a musician as well, so Apple had him early lol.

That's great! I'm hoping that you post a review on AT&T's 4G LTE speeds in the near future.

Anyway; while this may seem like a good move, it's marred up by the fact that there seems to be less and less argument for the coverage issue. I mean looking at that map, AT&T covers a lot of area; even California seems to be covered in 4G goodness. And if they can manage to launch four 4G LTE towers in the most populous areas than it makes it's argument to acquire T-Mobile less credible since, well they obviously have the bandwidth and the coverage area to launch these 4G LTE towers, I mean seriously.

Obviously with this kind of evidence, AT&T is going to have to go to desperate measures to acquire T-Mobile and enhance their bottom line with the cost being the reduction of innovation and competition.


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