Verizon, ATandT Hurry Out More LTE Ahead of iPhone 5

The iPhone has been a catalyst for LTE rollouts, and in the days ahead of the iPhone 5's arrival, AT&T and Verizon Wireless flipped switches on dozens of new markets.

In time for millions of iPhone 5 owners to turn on their smartphones, AT&T and Verizon Wireless have expanded their Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G networks to new markets.

Along with a larger, 4-inch display and a twice-as-fast processor, support for LTE is among the most notable features of the newest iPhone. Given its once-a-year iPhone release, Apple is among the last manufacturers to include LTE to its smartphones, but nonetheless has been a cause for the carriers' hurry to roll out their new, faster and more efficient networks.

"We will continue expanding and enhancing our 4G LTE network across the country to provide our customers with the best wireless experience possible and enable them to take advantage of the innovations that are being brought to market through 4G LTE technology," Jonathan LeCompte, a Verizon Wireless regional president, said in a Sept. 20 release announcing the expansion of LTE to parts of Auburn and Opelika, Ala.

In another Sept. 20 statement, announcing the arrival of LTE in 70 percent of Philadelphia and the Tri-State region of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Verizon said its LTE network is now in more than 370 markets, covering more than 75 percent of the U.S. population.

On Sept. 19, AT&T announced the expansion of its LTE network to Detroit; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Honolulu; Cincinnati; Dallas; and Fayetteville and Wilmington, N.C., adding that customer demand for mobile Internet continues "to skyrocket."

AT&T's LTE network is now live in 75 markets, though its complete 4G network, which includes older Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) technology, covers 275 million people, which it says is "3,000 more 4G cities and towns than Verizon."

Sprint, which has for years offered 4G in the form of WiMax technology, has also begun an LTE network rollout. While it currently offers LTE in 19 metropolitan areas, by the end of the year, it will expand that to 100 new markets, including Boston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

T-Mobile, the only tier-one carrier not selling the iPhone 5, also has an LTE push under way and should be rather far along with the deployment by the first quarter of 2013, at which time, or thereabouts, analysts expect it to also offer the newest iPhone.

In the days leading up the iPhone 5's Sept. 21 arrival, Verizon expanded its LTE network to or within Southern Arizona; Rochester and Bemidji, Minn.; Morehead City, N.C.; the Charleston area of S.C.; Dayton and Springfield, Ohio; Tampa Bay, Fla.; the Hays area of Kansas; Richmond, Ind.; the West Desert and Lewis areas of Utah; Bloomington and Normal, Ill.; Clinton, Iowa; Sterling, Ill.; Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.; Bainbridge, Ga.; Merced, Calif; the greater Pittsburgh area, as well as Henry Clay, Fairchance and North Versailles, Pa.; Statesboro, Ga.; Iowa's Quad cities; Peoria, Ill.; the Kansas City region of Mo.; Emporia, Kansas; Moultrie, Ga; Longmont, Colo.; Mattoon, Ill.; Helena, Mt.; Ellijay, Ga.; Jackson County, Mich.; Rolla, Mo.; Lubbock, Texas; American Falls, Idaho; Coffeyville, Kansas; the North Carolina Triad; Bremerton and Silverdale, Wash.; South Bend, Mishawaka and Elkhart, Ind.; Asheville, N.C.; Marion County, Ohio; Pueblo, Colo.; Lawrence, Kansas; Americus and Tifton, Ga.; Greeley, Snowmass and Aspen, Colo.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; and Tallahassee, Fla., among other areas.

Apple sold more than 2 million iPhone 5 devices within 24 hours of making it available for preorder. Customer response to the device has "shattered the previous record held by iPhone 4S," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing said in a Sept. 17 statement.

"iPhone 5 is the best iPhone yet and the most beautiful product we've ever made," he added, "and we hope customers love it as much as we do."