AT&T may have taken its time getting its first LTE network online, but it certainly isn’t dawdling when it comes to fulfilling its 2011 rollout commitment. The operator said it would turn on LTE networks in six new markets on Nov. 20, bringing its total to the 15 it originally promised. With another 40 days remaining in the year, this could mean AT&T is aiming to exceed its 2011 goal, just as arch-rival Verizon Wireless is building beyond its originally planned coverage of 185 million pops.
The new markets will be Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Oklahoma City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. In addition, AT&T said it also would introduce on Nov. 20 its second LTE-connected tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, giving it an LTE portfolio of two tablets and two smartphones. The Android Honeycomb Tab has a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor and an 8.9-inch widescreen display, making it just as powerful but smaller than HTC’s Jetstream tablet. While the Tab may have less real estate, it also has a much lower price tag. It’s $220 cheaper than the Jetstream’s $699 price-tag at launch — and that’s including a two-year contract.
AT&T doesn’t appear to be done with LTE for the year. While it has hit its goal of 15 markets, it hasn’t yet reached its total coverage target of 70 million pops. AT&T may be planning to make those numbers by expanding the LTE footprints within its current markets, or it may choose to launch the network in entirely new cities. Either way it has plenty of catching up to do. Verizon announced at its Oct. 24 third-quarter earnings call that it has hit 186 million pops LTE coverage in 155 markets. But since then, it has kept the rollouts coming with plans to turn on LTE services in 13 cities in November alone and possibly more in December.