AT&T senior vice president of mobility and consumer markets Pete Ritcher took the stage during the Oppenheimer Technology and Communications Conference on Wednesday, where he confirmed that AT&T will launch its first 4G LTE smartphone by the end of this year. Ritcher reaffirmed AT&T’s intention to deploy its LTE network in 15 markets covering 70 million people by the end of 2011, and it hopes to continue its roll-out on a market-by-market basis, Fierce Wireless reported. AT&T will initially only offer laptop cards alongside the new LTE network, and AT&T is expected to launch 4G LTE in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio this summer. “We are the only carrier with LTE and HSPA+,” Ritcher said. “When you don’t have LTE you will fall back to faster speeds than our competitors,” he added, noting that Verizon’s 4G customers fall back to the slower EV-DO network when LTE is not available.