AT&T's first LTE/HSPA+ devices will reportedly arrive in the carrier's stores (and online) starting Aug. 21.
The AT&T USBConnect Momentum 4G and AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G are designed to leverage AT&T's coming 4G LTE network. The carrier plans on charging a monthly $50 for 5GB, and $10 for each additional gigabyte thereafter. On Aug. 26, AT&T will also offer LTE upgrading-via a downloadable update-for its USBConnect Adrenaline.
AT&T plans on rolling out 4G service in five metropolitan areas later in 2011. Those markets include Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. By the end of this year, the carrier plans on expanding to 15 markets, which it claims will cover some 70 million Americans. Customers outside the 4G coverage area will have access to AT&T's speedy HSPA+ network.
For AT&T and its carrier rivals, 4G represents the next big opportunity and battleground for consumers' hearts and wallets. In coming quarters, a new slate of 4G-capable tablets and smartphones will arrive on the market, promising ultra-fast streaming and downloading speeds.
Speaking of new smartphones due to arrive on the market, the blog Engadget reported (based on an anonymous tipster) that AT&T's LTE 4G equipment had been installed in an unnamed Apple retail store. "Making things somewhat more interesting is the equipment itself, one piece of which supports only the 700MHz and AWS bands," read the Aug. 16 posting, "both of which AT&T plans to use for its LTE network if the T-Mobile acquisition goes through."
That report, of course, has kicked off blogosphere chatter over whether Apple plans to produce a 4G-enabled device in the near future, although the rumor mill surrounding the upcoming iPhone 5 has yet to produce anything substantial to that effect.
The iPhone aside, manufacturers are prepping 4G devices for release. AT&T will carry Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad 4G, for example, and Sprint continues to push its own line of 4G smartphones. Verizon also has several 4G products in the works.
For the past few months, the wireless industry as a whole has been pushing the Federal Communications Commission to free up more bandwidth spectrum and remove obstacles to 4G deployment, claiming they face a severe spectrum squeeze. At this year's CTIA conference in Orlando, Fla., heads of the major wireless telecoms used their respective talks to push more spectrum as a driver of economic growth.