When AT&T activated its 4G LTE service in the New York City metro area and 10 additional markets on Jan. 5, it brought to 15 the number of markets in which the AT&T service was available. Since 2011, major markets such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., have offered the same service. AT&T now claims the titles of the nation’s largest Wi-Fi provider and the nation’s second largest wireless operator after Verizon.
But does anyone truly understand what his or her experience is, or will be, on the most advanced wireless network technology currently available? This leads to the question: What exactly is 4G and 4G LTE service?
Simply put, 4G LTE is the fourth generation in the long-term evolution of network speed. It’s a double-layered network that is supposed to be up to ten times faster than the regular 4G network, which already delivers speeds up to four times faster than other networks. “More than half of our customers use simultaneous voice and data regularly and at a consistently good speed… [The] experience is very important to them,” blogged John Donovan, AT&T’s chief technology officer.
It’s quite a jump from the older days, when carriers initially started with voice calls only on the 1G (first generation) network. Gradually, the carriers upgraded to 2G service with the introduction of texting, emailing and basic web browsing. Only recently has the public begun to deal with 3G network, which allowed carriers to provide true access to the Internet, streaming video content, as well as downloadable applications and updates for phones. “But we seem to be progressing fast into the future with 4G and 4G LTE.” says Donovan.
AT&T is the only U.S. carrier deploying the dual-layered network of HSPA+ (evolved high-speed packet access) and LTE technologies. For AT&T, these mobile broadband speeds are much needed since they offer simultaneous voice and data coverage to millions across the country. The company plans to complete LTE deployment by end of year 2013. It has spent $75 billion in wireless and wired networks over the last four years and looks to become the latest standard and next step in future technology.