AT&T has been talking about implementing an LTE network of its own for some time now. While the company already has a 4G system in place, thanks to its tower upgrades providing HSPA+ service, long-term goals have been set on the deployment of an even-faster LTE system. As 2011 started, AT&T was planning to start launching its first areas of LTE coverage sometime this summer. Now the carrier is finally revealing the details of its plans, identifying the first markets to receive LTE service and sharing its goals for the continued roll-out.
AT&T customers in the south will be among the first to gain access to AT&T’s LTE network as service debuts in the Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio metro areas; the only northern city to be included in the launch will be Chicago. All five regions will get LTE service sometime this summer. AT&T plans to expand from that initial group to offer LTE in 20 markets by the end of the year. Full LTE coverage could be complete by 2013.
The carrier hasn’t shared the details of any LTE-capable smartphones it plans to carry, only saying that it has 20 4G devices on the way by year’s end, but that includes a mix of LTE and HSPA+ models.
During recent tests, AT&T reported LTE speeds nearing 30Mbps down and over 10Mbps up, along with the bold claim that those numbers will hold up to the real-world stresses induced as the network is loaded with users. We would love to see that be true, so you can bet we’ll be keeping a close eye on performance reports once LTE goes hot in those first five cities this summer.