AT&T dismisses Verizon's LTE market advantage

Days after AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless found common ground in trumpeting the benefits of LTE in comparison with Clearwire's mobile WiMAX, AT&T hit back against Verizon by arguing the No. 1 carrier's plan to deploy LTE this year won't give it a first-mover advantage.

AT&T CTO John Donovan, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, said Verizon is pushing LTE before it is fully mature. "2012 will be the time when you'll have decent handsets, decent quantity of handsets, and decent choice of handsets," Donovan said.

Verizon plans to launch 25-30 commercial LTE markets later this year, covering 100 million POPs. The company plans to fill out its entire 3G footprint with LTE by the end of 2013. AT&T, meanwhile, will be conducting LTE trials later this year, with wider deployments expected in 2011. Both carriers are using Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson as the primary vendors for their LTE networks.

Verizon has said it will launch data cards for LTE this year, and will have its first LTE handest on the market by mid-2011. Verizon's LTE devices are going to be backwards-compatible with its 1xEVDO Rev. A network, so customers will be able to fall back onto the carrier's 3G coverage where LTE is not deployed--an action Donovan labeled as a weakness.

"Right out of the chute, it's going to be difficult to engineer," Donovan said of the CDMA-LTE handsets. "It's going to drain the battery like crazy, and it's going to be a fat brick."

"No matter how much our competitors talk, it's not going to slow us down," Verizon spokesman Jim Gerace told the Journal. A Verizon spokesman did not immediately respond to further requests for comment on Donovan's remarks.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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