Today is the debut of AT&T’s long-awaited 4G LTE network, which will bring a significant boost to to speed this carrier can offer its wireless customers. However, there are no smartphones available at this time that support it.
Today’s launch comes almost a year after Verizon introduced its own LTE network. This rival carrier already has a number of phones that can access it, such as the HTC ThunderBolt and Samsung Droid Charge.
AT&T says that its 4G LTE network will allow users to download data at 5 to 12 megabits per second and upload it at 2-5Mbps. Its current HSPA+ network, which the company also calls “4G”, tops out at around 6 Mbps on downloads.
At this time, AT&T does not intend to charge extra for 4G service. Its customers who have a data plan and a device that can access the LTE network will be able to do so for no additional charge.
Today is the official premier of this new wireless service, but only in a few cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. AT&T intends to add ten more cities before the end of this year, however, giving 70 million Americans the potential to use it.
At first they will have to depend on a laptop modem and mobile hotspot. Still, this carrier says it will have an LTE-enabled smartphone on the market by the end of this year. Verizon used a similar strategy while rolling out it’s 4G network.
Even though AT&T and Verizon will have 4G networks using the same wireless standard, customers of one carrier won’t be able to roam onto their rival’s network. The two have implemented LTE on different frequencies, so there’s no cross compatibility.