Analyst: AT&T to launch LTE Advanced in second half of 2013

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AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) plans to launch LTE Advanced network technology in the second half of 2013, according to a report from research firm Technology Business Research. 

The report, from TBR analysts Ken Hyers and Eric Costa, was based off of comments AT&T executives made at the company's Consumer Analyst Conference in Atlanta on Nov. 27. "AT&T's network strategy revolves around a simple 4G message that incorporates the company's vast HSPA+ and LTE networks that stretch over its entire footprint," the analysts wrote. "The network strategy will involve mainly LTE networks and LTE Advanced networks, which AT&T will begin firing up in 2H13. These enhanced networks will provide faster speeds and coverage to its subscriber base, as well as open up growth opportunities in new segments."

AT&T had previously indicated that it would deploy LTE Advanced technology in 2013 but has never been more specific than that. An upgrade to LTE, LTE Advanced will allow operators to take advantage of advanced topology networks and also deliver improvements in capacity and coverage.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said the carrier plans to deploy LTE Advanced next year but declined to comment further.

The use of LTE Advanced technology would parallel AT&T's planned expansion of its LTE network next year. The carrier recently hit its goal of covering 150 million POPs with LTE by year-end; the company plans to cover 250 million people by the end of 2013 and 300 million by the end of 2014.

One feature that LTE Advanced offers operators is the ability to use carrier aggregation technology, which holds potentially large benefits. By bonding non-contiguous spectrum into a single, wider channel, carriers can address the asymmetry of data flows between downlink and uplink channels. Those wider channels will help carriers more efficiently handle rising data traffic. Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) plans to make use of the technology when it launches LTE next year.

When asked specifically about carrier aggregation, Kris Rinne, AT&T Labs' executive vice president of network technologies, demurred on when AT&T will start using the technology. "We haven't given a time frame but we would expect to be in a test mode in 2013," she recently told FierceBroadbandWireless. "It's getting carrier aggregation from the infrastructure side and then getting it in our network so we can start certifying the devices."

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