AT&T Stepping Up 4G LTE Efforts

AT&T will be aggressively expanding its new LTE deployment goals for the year ahead. According to the nation’s second largest operator, the network will be “largely complete” by the end of 2013. AT&T, however, still plans to begin launching LTE services by the middle of this year.

Details of initial markets, pricing, and rollout plans are still forthcoming.

“2011 is going to be a defining year for our industry and our country because of 4G,” says Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO at AT&T Mobility

Stating that AT&T has the “best transition path to 4G in the industry,” de la Vega is clearly talking a good game, particularly with regard to promises that AT&T “will deliver an experience that our competitors cannot match.”

AT&T’s LTE network will begin its grand arrival this June, and, according to AT&T, may cover upwards of 75 million Americans by the end of 2011. As a result, the company announced this week that it will sell twenty smartphones this year with LTE 4G compatibility, a dozen of which will run Android.

Despite the hype surrounding AT&T’s accelerated 4G plans, a great deal of work remains to be done before consumer expectations and the company’s full vision for 4G are realized. Still, AT&T likely feels its competitors (Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless) gaining steam in the world of 4G. The company’s quickened pace into 4G territory clearly represents that awareness.

AT&T’s announced efforts and new mobile devices come at a time when the carrier is believed to be bracing for the loss of iPhone coverage exclusivity in the United States – an “eventuality” that some industry analysts believe will set the operator back significantly in the absence of major farsighted company objectives and other broad initiatives.