AT&T expands LTE coverage to 26 markets, 74 million POPs

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) now covers 26 markets and 74 million POPs with LTE service, exceeding the company's initial coverage target for 2011, according to AT&T's John Stankey.

 AT&T's John Stankey.


Stankey, the president of AT&T's business solutions unit, provided the update at the Citi Global Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference. AT&T's original 2011 target was 15 markets and 70 million POPs covered by the end of 2011. In December Stankey said AT&T added 11 more markets to its LTE coverage, including Austin, Texas; Chapel Hill and Raleigh, N.C.; Los Angeles, the New York City metro area; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix; and Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.

Stankey confirmed that AT&T expects to complete its LTE buildout by the end of 2013, but did not provide 2012 LTE buildout targets.

AT&T, which launched LTE service in September, has been trying to catch up to Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), which launched LTE in December 2010. Verizon now covers 200 million POPs with LTE, but its network was marred by three outages in December. 

Speaking at the conference, Stankey also talked about the collapse of AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA, which came toward the end of December after a nine-month battle. "We gave it our best shot, pushed as hard was we could, and it became apparent to us that there were two agencies that weren't supportive of the deal," he said. The Department of Justice sued to block the deal on antitrust grounds and the FCC had signaled its opposition to the deal.

In the aftermath of AT&T and T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom's decision to drop the deal, the FCC approved AT&T's $1.93 billion purchase of Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) Lower D and E Block 700 MHz MediaFLO spectrum licenses. Stankey said that AT&T will continue to look for more spectrum to acquire to augment its capacity. However, he said that, now that the T-Mobile deal is gone, AT&T will have make its cell sites more dense organically and change how it designs its networks. He also said that AT&T will continue to evaluate how mobile broadband demand is matched to capacity and how that impacts its network management policies and prices.

For more:
- see this webcast
- see this AT&T release

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