AT&T hits milestone early, covers 300 million POPs with LTE

AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) said it has hit its goal of reaching 300 million covered POPs with LTE several months ahead of its target.

When the carrier laid out its Project VIP network plans in November 2012, it aimed to cover 300 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2014. Earlier this summer AT&T said it hit 290 million POPs.

With the latest coverage expansion, AT&T is now within striking distance of the coverage claimed by Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), which says its LTE network covers 306 million POPs. Verizon has been busy augmenting its LTE network running on 700 MHz spectrum with 1700/2100 MHz AWS spectrum for its "XLTE" service. Verizon has completed its AWS overlay in most of the major cities across the country, and expects will be done with the AWS expansion by the end of the year.

AT&T's LTE network primarily runs on its 700 MHz spectrum. AT&T plans to deliver LTE over its own AWS spectrum as well. AT&T has also started to refarm its 1900 MHz PCS spectrum for LTE in multiple markets, including, Baltimore, Dallas, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Further, AT&T also has plans to begin deploying LTE on its 2.3 GHz WCS spectrum sometime in 2015.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said the carrier does not plan "to provide further guidance for any potential additional build" on its LTE network. The carrier has been busy buying up pieces of 700 MHz spectrum from small carriers to fill out its footprint.

Verizon topped network testing firm RootMetrics' recent overall performance charts with a score of 81.6, while AT&T came in second at 79.5. Verizon led RootMetrics' charts in terms of national network reliability, speed, data performance and call performance, with AT&T very close behind on many fronts.

Yet AT&T made "impressive" gains in network reliability, the firm said. In the second half of 2013, Verizon was the clear leader on reliability, but the two networks were virtually dead-even in the new RootMetrics report. Verizon earned 112 wins in its Network Reliability Index across metro areas in the U.S., while AT&T won in 107 markets.

For more:
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