Back in January at the AT&T developer’s conference as part of CES, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph DeLa Vega introduced an aggressive plan to roll out two types of 4G on the AT&T network. The first phase of 4G would be HSPA+ similar to the “4G” that T-Mobile offers. The next phase would be 4G/LTE, which is the same kind of 4G that Verizon Wireless offers. We’ve all seen the speed tests and when you put LTE toe to toe with both HSPA+ or Sprint’s “4G”, WiMax, Verizon wins just about everytime.
More after the break
Verizon has a unique spin on LTE though as LTE uses a GSM backbone requiring a SIM card. Verizon has had dual mode “world” phones for a few years which have allowed customers to use the home CDMA network (similar to Sprint) as well as a GSM network overseas. All of Verizon’s 4G/LTE products also have a SIM card slot that enables the 4G to operate.
Since LTE uses a GSM SIM card backbone it actually makes switching from 3G to 4G easier on the AT&T network.
As part of DeLa Vega’s 2 part 4G strategy we were told we would start seeing 4G/LTE on AT&T over the summer. Since the summer is still technically not over they are meeting their goal, but only with 5 market. AT&T will officially light up Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Chicago on Sunday. However there have been widespread reports that all of those markets have or either have had 4G/LTE on during this ramp up to the launch.
AT&T has announced a USB modem and a mobile hotspot that will operate on their 4G/LTE network. They’ve also already released AT&T’s first 4G/LTE tablet the HTC JetStream which actually beat a smartphone out to the punch. We are expected a 4G/LTE enabled smartphone by the end of the year. We’ve also heard that AT&T plans to bring 10 more markets onto their 4G/LTE network by the beginning of 2012, with service to 70 million pops. In comparison, prior to today when Verizon launched 26 additional 4G/LTE markets they had already covered half of the US population with the ability to get 4G/LTE.