ATandT Expands 4G LTE Coverage as iPhone 5 Looms

As AT&T announces an expansion of its 4G LTE service, an upcoming iPhone 5 is expected to incorporate this connectivity.

AT&T is expanding its 4G Long-Term Evolution high-speed data network to seven new markets.

The wireless carrier will launch LTE in Anchorage, Alaska; Bakersfield, Calif.; Bridgeport, Conn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Modesto, Calif., Omaha, Neb.; and Syracuse, N.Y., the company announced Sept. 6.

In addition, the carrier is expanding its coverage in the New York City/New Jersey and Washington D.C./Baltimore markets.

By the end of 2012, AT&T will add LTE coverage in areas such as Cincinnati; Detroit; Hawaii; Louisville, Ky.; Milwaukee; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City and Seattle.

By December, LTE coverage areas will be double what it was at the end of 2011, according to AT&T.

The forthcoming Apple iPhone 5 is reported to be LTE-ready. Apple is holding an event on Sept. 12, and the new handset is expected to be out by the end of September. AT&T declined to comment on the expected iPhone 5 announcement.

As with any carrier, the iPhone 5 will be important to AT&T, but analysts have said that the company is expanding its revenue stream. Such a robust data revenue strategy could lessen AT&T's reliance on the iPhone, according to a June 24 Technology Business Research (TBR) report.

Samsung's Galaxy S III and Apple's third-generation iPad also feature 4G LTE connectivity, and upcoming Microsoft Windows 8 devices will as well.

Verizon covers 75 percent of the United States with its 4G LTE service, including more than 300 markets.

AT&T now offers 4G LTE in 60 markets and plans to reach 100 markets by the end of 2012. The carrier is not expected to have a full LTE rollout until 2013, however.

T-Mobile is the only U.S. carrier without 4G LTE, but the company will launch its version in 2013.

Sprint also announced 4G LTE rollouts recently. It added coverage in Baltimore; Gainesville, Ga.; Manhattan/Junction City, Kansas; and Sedalia, Mo.

LTE is 10 times faster than 3G, AT&T reported.

Mobile devices on AT&T that support LTE include the HTC One X, Motorola Atrix HD, Nokia Lumia 900, Pantech Element tablet, Samsung Focus 2, Samsung Galaxy Note and Sony Xperia Ion.

LTE delivers a lower latency, or time needed to send data through a network. Lower latency aids mobile gaming, two-way video calling and telemedicine, according to AT&T. LTE also uses more wireless spectrum.

In addition, LTE could be the mobile standard for use of Internet services through 2020, according to an AT&T company video. The service allows mobile users to access rich content, applications and cloud services, the company reported.

Mobile devices running on LTE had fewer data problems than those on 3G and earlier 4G technologies such as WiMax and Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+), according to a recent J.D. Powers study.

In addition to LTE, AT&T offers HSPA+ on 4G. When combined with enhanced backhaul, or connectivity between cell towers and the AT&T backbone network, the 4G speeds on HSPA+ get a boost, according to the company.

AT&T is the second-largest wireless carrier in the United States behind Verizon Wireless.