ACS, AT&T and Verizon poised to battle over LTE market in Alaska

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LTE competition is heating up in Alaska even as winter is set to move in, with Alaska Communications Systems announcing that it has launched 4G LTE in 10 cities, including Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer, Kenai, Palmer, Seward, Soldotna, Wasilla and Whittier.

The company announced in June 2011 that it would invest about $20 million on an LTE project, which at the time made it the first network operator to announce plans for LTE coverage in the state. However, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) jumped ahead of the home team's plans by becoming the first carrier to go live with LTE in Alaska when it launched in Anchorage in early September of this year.

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), meanwhile, has yet to confirm an exact launch date for its own wireless network in Alaska. Verizon acquired a presence in the Alaskan market back in 2010, when it bought 700 MHz licenses from C Block spectrum auction winner Triad. The carrier giant said in May of this year that it would roll out coverage in Anchorage and at least three other Alaskan markets sometime next year.

Why all the attention being paid to Alaska? It remains the only state where Verizon, which has more LTE POPs than any other North American carrier, has no LTE coverage at all. (To date, Verizon has delivered mobile service in Alaska through roaming partners.) Though AT&T has not commented, past published reports have suggested that AT&T may have been looking for a competitive edge by putting LTE in a market where Verizon hadn't launched yet.

Amid the increasing competition, ACS has beefed up its own network coverage by entering a network joint venture with fellow carrier GCI, which has an HSPA mobile data network.

ACS currently offers three 4G LTE smartphones, including HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note.

For more:
- see this Juneau Empire story

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