AT&T Continuing to Move Forward on Plans for 4G Cellular Network
AT&T today announced that it has reached an agreement with existing partners Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson to provide equipment for the carrier's next-generation LTE (4G) cellular network, opening the door to significant improvements in data speeds and performance. The company also confirmed that it is continuing to plan for field trials of LTE technology later this year and a full rollout beginning next year.
The selection of the two suppliers paves the way for AT&T's planned field trials of LTE technology later this year, with commercial deployment scheduled to begin in 2011. AT&T's LTE rollout schedule aligns with industry expectations for development of LTE technology and widespread availability of equipment and compatible LTE mobile devices. The supplier agreements also complement AT&T's plans to make the nation's fastest 3G network even faster in advance of LTE networks and devices scaling, allowing the company to continue delivering the most advanced mobile broadband experience in the nation.
Last month, the company announced that it had completed software updates on its cell sites to allow the provider to double data speeds on compatible devices (including the iPhone 3GS) as upgraded backhaul connections can be made. Those backhaul upgrades are also setting the stage for AT&T's 4G deployment, with the carrier planning to offer seamless compatibility between 3G and 4G networks as next-generation handsets become available and 4G coverage expands over time in 2011 and beyond.
AT&T currently serves as the exclusive service provider for Apple's iPhone in the United States. Despite the expiration of many of Apple's original exclusivity contracts for iPhone service around the world, other U.S. carriers have yet to announce future iPhone availability on their networks. And while many have expected that AT&T's exclusivity arrangement will expire this summer after three years, a growing chorus of analysts have been suggesting in recent days that Apple's renewed partnership with AT&T for 3G service for the iPad may be indicative of a stronger relationship between the two companies than previously thought, with some speculation placing continued iPhone exclusivity for AT&T into 2011.