AT&T(s t) has arrived at the same comfortable point in its LTE rollout that Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) hit about this time last year. It’s now built out the 4G network in 261 markets, blanketing 200 million people. That means all of the major and mid-sized cities are covered, and Ma Bell can start focusing on the small cities and towns in between.
On Wednesday it announced a list of 22 new markets receiving the LTE upgrade, and last week it took its new network live in another 11. Apart from a few more recognizable burgs like Colorado Springs, Co.; Olympia and Spokane, Wash.; and Fort Wayne, Ind.; you can be forgiven for not knowing many of the towns on these lists. Batesville, Ark., doesn’t host any professional sports teams.
AT&T’s goal is to reach 250 million people covered by the end of the year, which will mean covering a lot of smaller cities and towns. It’s planning 77 new market launches this summer alone. To put it in perspective, Verizon has launched LTE in 491 markets, yet it’s footprint encompasses 287 million people. From here on out, we’re going to see AT&T add hundreds of more names to its coverage list, but each new name will only add incremental gains to its total population covered.