AT&T may not be the biggest LTE network, but it is determined to be the fastest

When it comes to LTE coverage AT&T, Inc. (T) has been a bit behind its archrival Verizon Wireless (co-owned by Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc (LON:VOD)), which happens to be the nation's largest network.  AT&T has about 300 cities covered; Verizon Wireless has 500 cities covered.

But AT&T is the fastest LTE network.  In recent testing by TechHive, AT&T averaged 13.2/6.5 Mbps versus 9.6/5.5 Mbps for Verizon Wireless.  And it's spending big to try to surge ahead of Verizon in coverage while maintaining its speed lead.

AT&T teased this week that it will make a major announcement on Tuesday, July 16.

One possibility is that AT&T will announce voice-over-LTE.  Current voice communications on all the major American carriers are ferried over older HSPA networks.  Pushing those signals to LTE will allow for less compression and/or more noise reduction, improving call quality.

A second possibility -- seemingly even more likely -- is that AT&T will announce concrete plans for its Advanced LTE rollout.  Advanced LTE promises speeds of up to 1.5 Gbps (in theory), greatly speeding up downloads and data traffic (helping you to hit your cap that much sooner!).

Since 2011 AT&T has promised to unleash advanced LTE (also known as second generation LTE or LTE-advanced) on the market by the end of 2013, with a broader rollout in 2014.

LTE tower
AT&T has promised to roll out advanced LTE for some time. [Image Source: Wind River Blog]

Hardware support for advanced LTE will hit the market in the next couple months courtesy of Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) whose Snapdragon 800 has an on-die LTE-advanced modem.

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) has already released a variant of the Galaxy S IV that's rolling out in South Korea that has a Snapdragon 800 on board.  Samsung's domestic arch-rival LG Electronics Inc. (KSC:066570) -- currently the second largest Android phonemaker after Samsung -- is also preparing to release a Snapdragon 800 handset, the Optimus G2 (which may be rebranded as the Optimus G Pro in the U.S.).  That phone is expected to air at an August 7 launch event in New York City -- which may hint at when AT&T is planning to flip the switch on its second generation LTE network.
LG Optimus G Pro
The Optimus G will soon received a Snapdragon 800 upgrade.
Last, but not least, Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) has announced that its Xperia Z Ultra -- also Snapdragon 800 equipped -- will launch in Q3 2013.

Source: ComputerWorld

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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