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AT&T accelerates plans for LTE, Android

January 06, 2011 // Rick Merritt

AT&T accelerates plans for LTE, Android

AT&T is accelerating its plans to roll out LTE services and Android-based smartphones. The news comes in the wake of archrival Verizon turning on LTE services in early December, and rumors Verizon will offer a next-generation Apple iPhone soon.

AT&T said it will turn on LTE services in some markets by the middle of this year and complete a full switch to the next-generation cellular technology by the end of 2013. Carriers, including Sprint with its WiMax service, have been fighting to claim the loosely defined title of 4G for their networks.

While AT&T builds out its LTE network, it is also upgrading select parts of its HSPA+ backhaul networks to support data rates up to 6 Mbits/second. AT&T said it has now deployed HSPA+ to "virtually" its entire network.

AT&T will release before April two new smartphones capable of handling the 6 Mbit/s data rates it defined as the watermark for 4G networks. The new handsets are the Motorola Atrix 4G, an Android phone with a dual-core GHz processor, and the HTC Inspire 4G, an Android phone with a 4.3-inch display, 8 Mpixel camera and high def video recorder.

The carrier said it will add as many as seven new 4G-ready phones or data cards to its lineup by June and a total or 20 devices by the end of the year. AT&T also said it will compete in offering a broad portfolio of Android devices, including the Samsung Infuse 4G which uses Samsung's 1.2 GHz Hummingbird processor and a 4.5-inch active matrix OLED display.

AT&T is also providing a nine-inch e-reader from Pandigital with a service contract for $280. Verizon has been an aggressive supporter of Android smartphones, competing with AT&T which has had exclusive access in the U.S. to the Apple iPhone.

In addition, AT&T will spend $70 million to create centers in Dallas, Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv to accelerate the rollout of mobile apps for its network. It has approved a handful of new Android business apps and selected MedApps as a wireless patient monitoring system developer for its wireless medical service.

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