Saturday, May 21, 2011

AT&T Shows Off LTE, Remains Secretive on Specs

With its high-speed, long-term evolution network Relevant Products/Services set to debut later this year, AT&T Relevant Products/Services offered a headline-making demonstration this week at its Foundry space in Plano, Texas, showing the system is ready to rock.

GigaOm correspondent Stacy Higganbotham saw the system upload data Relevant Products/Services at a lightning-fast 10.4 megabits per second and download at 28.87 mbps. That speed won't be available for customers, though, because the strain of millions of users will slow down the now-empty network.

No Promises On Speed

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told us the company isn't announcing an anticipated speed level for LTE.

"We can't speculate on individual speeds because that varies with what the user is doing and the number of people," said Siegel. "But the network will be very fast."

Rival Verizon Wireless says the LTE network it launched in December is capable of between 5 and 12 mbps for downloads and up to 5 mbps for uploads.

Siegel said there is no date set for LTE activation but by year's end it will serve 70 million people across the country, with the complete footprint in place by the end of 2013. He declined to say whether the system will open for smartphones immediately or for mobile Relevant Products/Services computer Relevant Products/Services data modem users first as was the case on Verizon's network.

AT&T used 700 MHz it recently purchased at auction as well as its own AWS band for the demonstration, a technician told GigaOm. The anticipated acquisition of T-Mobile, which would make AT&T the nation's largest carrier, will add even more spectrum that could give the company an LTE sales-boost despite lagging behind Verizon in implementing it.

"Spectrum is the precious natural resource of the industry," said Siegel. "The merger will allows us to cover 97 percent of the U.S. including rural areas and small towns, which is a tremendous advantage."

Higginbotham noted that AT&T's current max speed record for its HSPA network is 3.77 Mbps for downloads and 1.21 Mbps for uploads. There is speculation that the next iPhone will be 4G compatible, and the market is already flooding with high-speed phones, especially Android models.

Need For Speed?

But do average customers really care whether it takes five or ten seconds to upload photos to Facebook or access movie times? (continued...)

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