Tuesday, January 4, 2011

AT&T to Accelerate LTE Rollout

AT&T announced plans to accelerate its LTE rollout with the goal of launching initial service by mid-year 2011 and substantially completing the network by year-end 2013. AT&T's mobile broadband strategy calls for both HSPA+ and LTE.

The company has already completed its deployment of HSPA+ to virtually 100 percent of its mobile broadband network. The network upgrade program calls for faster rollout of Ethernet + fiber backhaul and AT&T now expects that nearly two-thirds of its mobile broadband traffic will be on expanded backhaul by year-end 2011.

In an investor presentation at the Citi Annual Global Entertainment conference, John Stankey, President and CEO, AT&T Business Solutions, said that CAPEX at the company would remain relatively constant as a percentage of revenue (mid-teens) but that the accelerated LTE deployment means that some spending will be brought forward. The "tail-end" of the Uverse build means that more money can now be spend on wireless infrastructure and mobile broadband -- therefore a higher percentage of CAPEX will be devoted to wireless, while the company continues to look for synergies in its wireline and wireless backbones.

Regarding bottlenecks in its existing 3G network, Stankey said supply chain issues in procuring radio access network (RAN) equipment finally appear to be alleviated and that the company is now moving ahead with upgrade projects as quickly as it can. However, some projects, such as downtown San Francisco, are delayed by zoning and permitting requirements, while other sites, such as sports stadiums, are delayed by property owners.

Some key points from AT&T's Developer event at CES in Las Vegas:

  • AT&T is delivering 6 Mbps downlink speeds on its HSPA+ network where Ethernet backhaul is in place.

  • AT&T plans to introduce 20 4G devices by the end of the year, some on an exclusive basis. This will include more than 12 new Android devices in 2011. AT&T expects to offer two 4G smartphones in Q1 2011.

  • AT&T plans to launch two 4G tablets, including its first LTE tablet, by mid summer. Additional LTE tablets are planned for the second half of 2011.

  • AT&T is offering Wi-Fi access at more than 125,000 hot spots.

  • AT&T will launch an HTML-5 development kit. The company has also inked an agreement with Open Feint to offer a social gaming platform that can work across wireless networks. The agreement opens API's for the popular Open Feint social gaming platform for AT&T smartphones.

"AT&T is the only U.S. company committed to both HSPA+ and LTE technologies. Today our customers are benefitting as we repeatedly increase speeds on our mobile broadband network. As we accelerate our LTE network build, our customers will have blazing fast LTE speeds and when they go off LTE, they will still have faster mobile broadband speeds with HSPA+ -- something our competitors will not be able to match," stated Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets.


  • AT&T has previously disclosed LTE trials that are underway in Dallas and Baltimore, as well as the selection of Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson as the primary suppliers of radio access equipment for these tests.