updated 10:15 am EDT, Wed May 25, 2011
ATT details LTE launch cities
AT&T CTO John Donovan chose this morning to detail the cities involved in the company's LTE service rollout this year. Bucking New York rumors, the launch would start off with five cities this summer and a strong focus on AT&T's home state of Texas. Dallas, Houston and San Antonio would be covered with the faster speeds along with Atlanta and Chicago.
Another "10 or more" areas would launch in the second half of the year, or enough to potentially reach 70 million people by the end of 2011. About 20 4G-branded devices are due to ship this year, though AT&T admitted that only some of those would actually be LTE while the rest are just HSPA+ 3G. The only LTE device known so far based on leaks is the HTC Puccini tablet.
The AT&T LTE launch is likely to be underwhelming relative to Verizon's. Its close rival launched in 38 cities and promised coverage of about 110 million people, including in coastal population centers like New York City and San Francisco. Part of the aggressive push has likely hinged on the gap in network speeds, since Verizon hasn't had a direct equivalent to HSPA+ where AT&T can still improve its baseline.
Its slower rollout might help explain the reduced incentive for phone makers like Apple to leap on LTE smartphones. With only a small amount of coverage, the design sacrifices needed to get the faster connection hasn't been a strong incentive to sign on early. Most expect the iPhone and other moderately sized smartphones to start going LTE only in 2012.