AT&T’s LTE network will not have a smartphone support until much later this year, according to the company’s senior president of mobility and consumer markets, Peter Ritcher.
In a speech at a recent tech conference Ritcher stated the company is in no rush to deploy LTE and LTE handsets, and is instead focusing on strengthening its HSPA+ network with enhanced backhaul. The carrier plans to take advantage of its LTE network to reduce strain on its 3G network, though Ritcher claimed AT&T is waiting for LTE handsets to mature before the carrier will launch any LTE supported smartphones.
It was previously reported that the carrier’s first devices with LTE network compatibility would be a laptop modem and mobile hotspot, though most assumed a smartphone was in the works. AT&T is still set to launch its LTE network in five markets this summer: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
Ritcher did not provide any details on the first LTE smartphone, though he did promise at least one LTE-capable handset by the year’s end. AT&T’s biggest competitor, Verizon Wireless, launched its LTE network in December 2010 but didn’t debut an LTE equipped smartphone until March. Despite both carriers using the same wireless networking standard, neither company plans to support the other’s frequencies.