Verizon and AT&T have been crossing swords for months, if not years, in preparation for the coming LTE battle in the U.S., with both announcing LTE roadmaps. While AT&T repeated today it would move forward on two LTE field trials this year, Verizon said in January it had field trials already underway in Boston and Seattle, with expectations to launch LTE in 25 to 30 cities by the end of 2010.
But AT&T has undertaken a flank attack. Instead of timing LTE deployments in line with Verizon's in 2010, AT&T is marshaling forces with the Alcatel-Lucent/Ericsson announcement and the upgrade pathway with HSPA 7.2.
But AT&T has also acknowledged that the HSPA 7.2 upgrades will depend on installing fiber optic backhaul connections to cell towers and other cell sites. Early in February, AT&T said it had reached parts of six cities with the needed backhaul connections , following comments by AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega in December that it would reach 25 cities by mid-2010.
Even so, AT&T has projected that a majority of its mobile data traffic will be carried over the expanded fiber-based HSPA-capable backhaul by the end of 2010, with continued expansion in 2011.
AT&T is spending $2 billion more on network improvements in 2010, and many high-speed wireless data needs will be met with Wi-Fi, including 20,000 AT&T hotspots.
How well AT&T meets its schedule could be important to some consumers who rely on AT&T as the exclusive iPhone provider and, soon, the U.S. 3G wireless carrier for the iPad.
While attempting to appeal to future wireless subscribers, AT&T today revealed how how aggressive on high speed wireless it plans to be. AT&T has more than 85 million subscribers and clearly has its eyes on Verizon's first place position with 91 million subscribers.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld . Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed@matthamblen or subscribe to . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
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