AT&T Launching 4G LTE In 5 Cities

CellTower

AT&T has selected Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Atlanta and Chicago as the first five cities for the rollout of its high-speed 4G LTE service this summer. Three of the cities are in the carrier's home state of Texas.

A rumor surfacing earlier this month suggested AT&T would launch 4G service in New York in late June and Los Angeles a few weeks after.

Beyond the initial five markets, AT&T plans to extend its 4G LTE network to another 10 cities by year's-end, reaching some 70 million consumers in total. The carrier said it would offer 20 "4G" handsets by the end of 2011, although only some would be LTE-capable. The rest would include devices running on its slower 3G HSPA+ network. According to Electronista, the only LTE device in the works from AT&T based on leaks is the HTC Puccini tablet.

AT&T already trails well behind Verizon Wireless in deploying next-generation wireless service. Verizon has launched 4G LTE in 45 cities to date, including New York and L.A., and expects to reach 175 markets by year's end. Sprint, meanwhile, says it currently offers 4G service in 71 markets in 28 states through its WiMax-based Clearwire network.

AT&T CTO John Donovan said in a blog post today the company has spent $75 billion upgrading its wireless and wireline networks in the last four years and plans to invest another $19 billion this year. "We're positioning to deliver a great mobile broadband experience in the near term with HSPA+ and a growing LTE footprint," he wrote.

Donovan's update essentially confirms a statement by AT&T Mobility head Ralph de la Vega during AT&T's first-quarter conference call last month, when he said the company's LTE rollout would cover 70 million to 75 million Americans by year's-end.

The nation's No. 2 carrier expects that faster wireless network speeds will translate into higher consumer usage, and in turn, higher average revenue per user (ARPU) for AT&T.

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