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AT&T To Roll LTE/UMTS Network By Mid-2011

AT&T Inc. has decided to launch its 4G LTE service by the middle of 2011, covering 70 million to 75 million PoPs by the end of the year.

Unlike Verizon Wireless, which will commercially launch LTE with coverage of 100 million PoPs later this year, AT&T needed to find a way to accommodate its existing UMTS 3G services over the network as well, AT&T Operations CEO John Stankey said, making it a different engineering issue.

Stankey made the announcement at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2010 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference on Thursday, saying the carrier is spending $700 million in capex this year and is working with infrastructure partners Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent to ready the network. As part of the effort, AT&T is conducting LTE trials in Baltimore and Dallas, Stankey said.

The dual-mode approach is likely to give AT&T an edge when it comes to devices. Maravedis Research says that the top 25 LTE (committed) operators accounted for nearly 22 percent of the total worldwide mobile subscriber base last year; with 1 billion mobile subscribers, of which 280 million were 3G/UMTS. By the year 2015, these operators will reach a 3G/UMTS subscriber base of 1,087 million, of which 226.7 million will be served with dual mode 3G/LTE devicesthe direction AT&T is surely going in. That means its device stable for LTE is likely to be richer and deeper than its non-UMTS/LTE rivals in the United States.

Maravedis says the total LTE CAPEX will be approximately $47.83 billion (accumulative), of which 78 percent will be on base stations and 22 percent on dual-mode CPEs. The accumulated number of LTE base stations will reach 241,698 units in 2015, up from 82,511 units in 2013.


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