AT&T unveils its first two LTE devices, a USB modem and mobile hotspot

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) named its first two LTE devices ahead of the launch of its forthcoming LTE network. The carrier will provide both a USB modem and mobile hotspot device from Sierra Wireless.

AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G

AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G

AT&T said it will sell the USB Connect Momentum 4G modem for $49.99 with a two-year contract after a $50 mail-in rebate. The carrier also will sell the Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G for $69.99 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate. The hotspot includes a 1.77-inch display for information like signal strength and data usage and connects up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices to the Internet. AT&T said both devices offer an expandable memory slot that supports microSD cards up to 32 GB, and both offer global connectivity with data roaming in more than 200 countries.

The company said the devices will be available this summer, but it did not give precise timing or disclose its LTE data pricing. AT&T said in late May that it will launch LTE service in its first five markets--Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio--as the summer gets underway, but has been relatively mum on details since then. The company expects to deploy LTE across 70 million POPs in 15 markets by year-end.

While rival Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has a large lead in LTE market deployments, AT&T has consistently said that its customers' ability to fall back to its HSPA+ 21 network will give it an advantage over Verizon. Verizon's customers fall back to EV-DO data support, which provides slower speeds than AT&T's HSPA 21 network. AT&T's LTE device launch roadmap is similar to Verizon's, which first offered USB modems before moving to smartphones and other devices.

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 has said its LTE network delivers real-world downlink speeds of 5-12 Mbps and uplink speeds of 2-5 Mbps. Stankey also said at the time that AT&T remains committed to deploying enhanced Ethernet backhaul to two-thirds of its cell sites by year-end, and will exit the second quarter with roughly half of those sites having enhanced backhaul.

Verizon's LTE network is live in 77 markets right now and the carrier aims to reach 175 markets by year-end.  Today, the company officially opened its LTE Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass., where Verizon will work with partners on an array of LTE solutions. 

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