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Summary:

In preparation for details expected today about its next-generation mobile broadband network, AT&T has introduced three new USB data devices for laptop users, one of which is software upgradable and can use AT&T’s LTE 4G network when it launches in the middle of 2011.

shockwave

In preparation for the release of more details about its next generation mobile broadband network, AT&T has introduced three new data devices for laptop users, two of which will support the carrier’s faster HSPA+ or LTE networks in the future. Those two — the USBConnect Adrenaline and USBConnect Shockwave — will be available with a two-year contract, while the third, the USBConnect 900, is a contract-free, pre-paid data device. With the new dongles, AT&T is ensuring that customers can take advantage of data network upgrades currently in progress and planned for the future.

Although AT&T is just now running LTE trials in Dallas and Baltimore, it plans to launch LTE service by mid-2011 and cover approximately 75 million people with LTE service by the end of next year. That’s where a device such as the $49.99 Adrenaline comes in: The software on the USB data stick can be upgraded so that it works on today’s 3G network but will also work on the future 4G network. The free Shockwave dongle won’t work on LTE, but it can take advantage at AT&T’s planned HSPA+ network. The third device, the USBConnect 900 built by Huawei, costs $79.99 and uses AT&T’s current 3G network, but offers flexibility without a contract. Customers with this device can pre-pay for a Day, Week or Month Pass: Respective data prices are $15, $30 and $50, providing capacities of 100 MB, 300 MB and 1 GB of data.

We’re expecting to hear more about AT&T’s network upgrade path this morning as company CEO Ralph de la Vega gives the keynote at the CTIA industry event at 9:30 a.m. PT. While additional details of the carrier’s move to HSPA+ are likely to be shared, AT&T’s LTE effort is also a likely mention as Verizon’s plans to launch LTE in 25 to 30 markets, covering 100 million people within the next three months. The two competitors appear to be heading down the same path with LTE, but there’s a key difference. As Verizon customers move out of an LTE coverage area, devices will fall back to the carrier’s 3G network, which provides theoretical 3.1 Mbps speeds. AT&T’s step-by-step strategy of moving first from HSPA+, then to LTE will provide a fall-back to the carrier’s theoretical 7.2 Mbps network, which means customers will see less of a speed drop.

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  1. At CTIA, AT&T — and Its LTE — Are a No Show: Tech News « Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    [...] AT&T, on the other hand, is talking about rolling out their LTE network sometime in 2011. Until then, the best they can offer will be some variant or other of HSPA+ technology. From the looks of it, it won’t even match the speed of T-Mobile’s new network. (They introduced three devices today, all USB cards for laptops.) [...]

  2. I could use some extra speed. Looking forward to pickin this up.

  3. T-Mobile Wants to Be the “Target” of Carriers: Tech News « Thursday, October 14, 2010

    [...] Above T-Mobile, the “Saks Fifth Avenue” type of carriers are clearly Verizon and AT&T . The two largest U.S. carriers account for more than 180 million mobile subscribers. This duo offers far greater coverage area than T-Mobile and since a cellular device is only as good as the network coverage allows, both carriers can command a price premium for their services. On the other hand, where T-Mobile does have coverage, it offers comparable or better service. With its rollout of a 21 Mbps HSPA+ this year, T-Mobile typically offers faster mobile broadband speeds than either Verizon or AT&T currently provide, although few handsets can take full advantage of such speeds. Of course, the competitors are stepping it up: Verizon is launching LTE service in over 38 markets this year, and in 2011, AT&T will start offering its own LTE service. [...]

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