Speaking during a D9 press event in California on Thursday, AT&T Mobility’s CEO Ralph de la Vega said it will take AT&T between 2 and 3 years to bring its LTE network coverage up to a par with Verizon Wireless’ 4G offering. AT&T has already announced that it plans to deploy its 4G LTE network to five cities this summer, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. However, Verizon’s network is already available in 55 markets, it plans to deploy in 23 more this month, and the carrier has promised full 4G LTE coverage across its current 3G network by the end of 2013. According to CNN, Ralph de la Vega said AT&T “can’t say when” its 4G network will match Verizon’s but said “in the next two to three years they will probably be indistinguishable.” The carrier also reaffirmed that if its proposed acquisition of T-Mobile is approved, customers should see a large improvement the in overall quality and reliability of AT&T’s service.
UPDATE: AT&T spokesperson Seth Bloom provided BGR with the following comments via email:
We noted that your post about LTE today didn’t note Ralph’s point that AT&T has a solid, modern technology with HSPA+, so we didn’t need to move as fast as Verizon with LTE. A bit more context for our network path can be found here… of course it includes LTE starting this summer with 5 cities (and additional 10 or more by the end of the year):
- 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.
- 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 didn’t jump straight to LTE so that its customers would have a consistently fast mobile broadband experience. Customers of competitors who haven’t made the same upgrades as AT&T has will find that they’ll have fast speeds in LTE areas, but will see a steep drop-off in speeds when they leave LTE coverage zones. Plus, if they’re using voice and data simultaneously, one of those connections will drop off. AT&T’s customers will have a more consistent speed experience as they move between LTE and HSPA+ coverage areas.