AT&T's LTE network gives Chicago users an early preview, shows speeds up to 13 Mbps

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) may not have officially launched its LTE service yet, but curious observers are getting a taste of the network via patches of service they are picking up in Chicago, according to reports.

According to the blog Boy Genius Report, an unnamed source in Chicago sent photos and data showing an active LTE network for the AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G, made by Sierra Wireless. The blog said that the device produced speeds of 13 Mbps downlink and 2 Mbps uplink. Additionally, the blog This is my next reported that, using a weak LTE signal, the Elevate device achieved average downlink speeds of 6-7 Mbps and uplink speeds of 1-2 Mbps. Additionally, BGR reported that a separate tester in Atlanta used an Elevate to achieve downlink speeds of nearly 25 Mbps and uplink speeds of 8 Mbps.

Both blogs pointed out that the network is not actually live and that speeds might change once more users access the network or the network is commercially available.

John Stankey, the president of AT&T's business solutions unit, said in late May that field trials of AT&T's LTE network on its 700 MHz spectrum show that it is delivering real-world speeds "consistent with those that have been given by the top competitors." Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has said its LTE network delivers real-world downlink speeds of 5-12 Mbps and uplink speeds of 2-5 Mbps.

An AT&T spokeswoman declined to comment on when the company will officially launch its LTE service, but said the first five market launches will be coming "very soon." So far AT&T has committed to deploying LTE in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The company expects to deploy LTE across 70 million POPs in 15 markets by year-end. AT&T has said it plans to launch its first LTE smartphone by year-end.

Earlier this month AT&T revealed that it will charge $50 for 5 GB of data for its data-only LTE devices; it did not reveal potential LTE smartphone data pricing. AT&T began selling its first two LTE devices--the USB Connect Momentum 4G modem and the Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G, both made by Sierra Wireless--on Aug. 21. The devices are available for $49.99 and $69.99, respectively, with a two-year contract after a $50 mail-in rebate. AT&T also said that its HSPA+ USB modem, the USBConnect Adrenaline from LG, could be upgraded to LTE starting Aug. 26 via a software update.

Verizon, which first launched LTE service in December 2010, said its LTE network now covers more than 160 million POPs, which is more than half of the U.S. population. The network is available in more than 117 cities, and Verizon expects to cover 175 markets and 185 million POPs with LTE by year-end.

For more:
- see this BGR post
- see this separate BGR post
- see this This is my next post

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