AT&T accelerates LTE deployment, will launch 20 4G devices this year

LAS VEGAS--AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) will accelerate the deployment of its LTE network, launching LTE markets by mid-year with the entire deployment competed by 2013. In addition, the company will debut 20 4G devices this year. Those devices will use a variety of operating systems including Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 7 and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, implying that a 4G version of the iPhone is in the works.

From left to right it’s the Motorola Atrix, HTC Inspire and the Samsung Infuse. AT&T described both HSPA+ and LTE network technologies and said it will be releasing devices that run on both technologies. Recently T-Mobile USA has blurred the lines calling its HSPA+ network and devices "4G." When T-Mobile did so this past spring, AT&T said that calling HSPA+ "4G" was misleading.

Speaking at the company's AT&T developer event held here today, AT&T Mobility CEO and President Ralph de la Vega said that recent tax incentives have made it possible to accelerate the company's LTE deployment as well as expand its backhaul capabilities. Specifically, de la Vega said that the company is equipping its backhaul network with Ethernet and fiber, which will provide network speeds of up to 6 Mbps--what AT&T calls "4G speeds." He expects that two-thirds of the company's network traffic will be on the expanded backhaul by year-end.

In October, AT&T Operations CEO John Stankey said at an investor conference that the company would launch commercial LTE service by mid-2011, and will cover between 70 million and 75 million POPs by year-end.

De la Vega also said that AT&T plans to introduce 20 4G devices this year, with HSPA+ devices coming in the first half of the year and LTE devices in the second half of the year. Those LTE devices will include smartphones, USB modems and hot spots and will use a variety of platforms including Android, Windows Phone and iOS. AT&T will launch HSPA+ smartphones that include the Motorola (NYSE:MOT) ATRIX 4G, the HTC Inspire 4G and the Samsung Infuse 4G.

The carrier also said it plans to launch two tablets, including its first LTE tablet, by mid summer. Additional LTE tablets are planned for the second half of the year. The first tablet, running HSPA+, is made by Motorola, has a 10.1-inch screen, runs on Nvidia's 1 GHz Tegra 2 processor and supports the "Honeycomb" version of Android.  

By contrast, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has already launched 39 LTE markets, covering 110 million POPs. The carrier currently offers two laptop dongles, and charges $50 per month for 5 GB of LTE data and $80 for 10 GB of data. Verizon is expected to unveil a range of Android smartphones and at least one tablet here for its LTE network. 

For more:
- see this release
- see this Engadget post 
- complete CES coverage

Related Articles:
AT&T to launch LTE by mid-2011
Report: Verizon unveiling dozens of LTE partners at CES
Verizon partnering with Motorola on LTE smartphone
Verizon's Seidenberg: LTE smartphone pricing is still undecided
Verizon planning big LTE splash at CES
Verizon promises Android LTE devices at CES

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