AT&T, T-Mobile wrangling over who has the largest 4G network

T-Mobile USA currently claims it owns "America's Largest 4G Network" based on coverage of 215 million people with HSPA+ network technology. However, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) recently updated its own figures and now claims its "4G" network (which spans both HSPA+ and LTE technology) covers nearly 250 million people.

Tmobile america's largest 4G network

In its latest ads, T-Mobile encourages shoppers to "test drive America's largest 4G network."

AT&T in February began advertising its 4G network as the nation's largest, but didn't provide specific coverage figures. Now, though, it appears AT&T has firmly taken the lead in terms of network size.

So will T-Mobile give up its position as owner of "America's Largest 4G Network?"

"T-Mobile currently operates America's Largest 4G Network, reaching well over 215 million people in 225 markets, which we believe makes us the largest," T-Mobile said in a statement to FierceWireless. "It's important to note that having enhanced backhaul in place is necessary to deliver a 4G experience. AT&T is touting the reach of their network, but we don't believe they have sufficient backhaul to justify the assertion that they are larger.  We believe T-Mobile reaches more Americans with a 4G experience."

An AT&T spokesman disagreed.

"The facts are we have the nation's largest 4G network covering nearly 250 million people with LTE and HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul," AT&T's Steven Schwadron told FierceWireless.

And what of Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ)? The carrier claims to own the nation's "largest 4G LTE network." Verizon spokesman Thomas Pica said "we cover 2/3 of the U.S. population and more than 200 million POPs [with LTE]. If you check the census site, it will say there are about 314 million in the U.S. at this time." Verizon has promised to cover 260 million people with LTE by the end of this year.

Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) current 4G-branded service relies on Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network, which covers around 130 million people.

Of course, not all "4G" networks are equal. The HSPA+ 21 network of T-Mobile USA and the LTE network of AT&T Mobility were the nation's fastest "3G" and "4G" networks, respectively, among Tier 1 U.S. carriers, according to a new study from PCWorld.

For more:
- see this T-Mobile page
- see this Verizon release
- see this AT&T release

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