By the time this summer ends AT&T will have its 4G LTE network offering up and running in markets that include Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta. AT&T says its 4G network can achieve speeds of about 15 Mbps. If you’re confused and thought AT&T already has 4G service, you’re not alone.
AT&T’s 4G current 4G service uses HSPA+ yet AT&T is shifting its focus to 4G LTE. The industry seems to be settling towards LTE, following Verizon which already has an LTE-based network. AT&T has been aggressively expanding in and investing in its nationwide infrastructure, spending $75 billion during the past four years. It doesn’t stop there: AT&T plans to invest another $19 billion this year alone. AT&T says it plans to deploy its 4G LTE network to a total of 15 markets, reaching 70 million Americans, by the end of this year, in addition to adding 20 4G devices to its lineup, with many of the newer devices having LTE capability.
AT&T’s network upgrade trails it’s rival, Verizon, which already offers 4G LTE in 38 markets plus more than 60 US airports. Verizon says it expects to complete its national deployment of 4G LTE by the end of 2013, while AT&T says it expects its network to be mostly complete by that time.
While demos at AT&T labs reaches download speeds of over 28 Mbps, factors like the number of subscribers using one antenna, your distance from an antenna, and the amount of data being carried at the time are likely to bring your download speed to somewhere between 5 Mbps and 15 Mbps. Some say that current 3G speeds can often be faster than 4G when all three factors are playing against 4G users, yet that does not seem to deter many from wanting to experience 4G for themselves.
For many who are anticipating that the next version of Apple’s iPhone will be LTE ready, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Apple is waiting for chip makers to produce more mature LTE chipsets, which are expected by the end of this year, making an LTE-capable iPhone more likely sometime next year. Yet Apple says it may participate in some way in AT&T’s LTE offerings this summer.
4G LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is the 4th generation of a wireless broadband standard that supersedes 3G technologies like GSM/UMTS. The 4G specification defines a maximum data rate of 100 Mbps with 50 Mbps upload speed, and a reduction of network latency to 10 msec, round-trip. 4G LTE is currently available in several other countries. LTE is favoured over other technologies, like WiMax offered by Sprint.