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AT&T(s t) announced another a new batch of 14 LTE market launches on Wednesday, which puts its total at 461 cities and towns in the U.S. and just 39 markets short of matching Verizon’s(s vz)(s vod) now-complete 500-city 4G footprint.
AT&T first started turning on LTE in 2011 nine months after Verizon with an eye on completing it next summer. Over the last year, it’s been accelerating its rollout, reaching its overall 2013 coverage goal of 250 million people by the end of Q3. Ma Bell hasn’t revealed how many people are in its LTE footprint today, but it keeps adding new markets to its rollout schedule. Its new end-of-year target is 270 million cover, a goal it will certainly meet if not exceed.
Verizon wrapped up its nationwide LTE rollout in June with 298 million people covered (though it immediately started on new LTE network, which we’ve started to see signs of in NYC). While AT&T is certainly getting close to matching Verizon’s coverage, it won’t necessary achieve parity. Verizon prides itself on having the best coverage in the U.S., and it’s been deploying its LTE networks far more widely in cities than other carriers.