AT&T has already said that they'll be launching their LTE network in mid-2011, a bit later than any of their competitors. The question, though, is just how widespread will AT&T's 4G coverage be compared to Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Speaking at 4G World in Chicago, AT&T Senior Vice President of Architecture and Planning Kris Rinne stated that his company will have around 75 million people covered with LTE by the end of 2011. AT&T will be spending $700 million on LTE preparation by the end of this year, and their 4G network will be deployed on both the 700 MHz and AWS bands.
I'm definitely excited for AT&T to finally get into the 4G game, but I'm concerned about how widespread their coverage is going to be if they'll only be reaching 75 million people in the first six or seven months of deployment. By contrast, Verizon plans to cover 110 million people, Sprint's WiMAX will cover around 120 million people, and T-Mobile's HSPA+ (which may be branded as 4G soon) will cover around 200 million people, all by the end of 2010. If they really want to compete in the 4G world, AT&T is going to need to step up their deployment, either by moving up the initial deployment or increasing the number of cities covered. You can do it, ATT!