AT&T Behind Verizon in LTE, Relies on HSPA+

United States-based wireless carrier AT&T is preparing the launch of its 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) network for this summer, with five markets set to enjoy coverage in the next few months, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

However, the carrier feels that it would need a few years to bring its LTE network at the same level as Verizon's network would be, AT&T Mobility’s CEO Ralph de la Vega stated recently.

During a D9 press event in California on Thursday, he reportedly noted that AT&T would need two or three years to get the LTE network to the same level as Verizon's airwaves would be.

At the moment, Big Red covers a number of 55 markets with its 4G LTE network, and plans on making the enhanced connectivity options available in over 20 markets more before the end of this month.

Verizon also promised that the 4G network would cover its entire 3G footprint by 2013, which means that AT&T has a lot of catch up to do in the following few years.

In the meantime, however, the wireless carrier would rely on its recently fired up HSPA+ network, which can offer fast connectivity speeds as well.

Since the HSPA+ network is already up and running, the wireless carrier says that it does not need to hurry with the LTE deployments, even if Verizon is far ahead.

“As AT&T builds out its LTE footprint, customers outside the LTE area will still have access to HSPA+, meaning consistently fast mobile broadband speeds,” an AT&T spokesperson stated.

“AT&T’s HSPA+ network with expanded backhaul provides a great 4G experience with speeds up to four times faster than our already fast mobile broadband speeds. Also, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population is currently covered by AT&T’s HSPA+ radio network.”

AT&T also notes that, courtesy of HSPA+, it would be able to provide users with a consistent experience even when outside the LTE coverage area, since the difference in data transfer speeds would not be as big.

Provided that AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile is approved, the company would operate the largest 4G network in the United States, although it would be based only on HSPA+.

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