AT&T has announced the pricing for its LTE service: $50 for 5 GB of data, similar to what Verizon Wireless charges for its LTE service, but the company did not say when it will turn on its LTE network.
AT&T’s LTE data-only plans also will come with a $10 per GB overage fee, similar to its current HSPA data offerings.
Its first two LTE-only devices will be available Aug. 21. They are the USB Connect Momentum 4G modem ($49.99) and the Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G ($69.99), a mobile hotspot. Both are made by Sierra Wireless. Those prices require a two-year contract after a $50 mail-in rebate. AT&T also said that its HSPA+ USB modem, the USBConnect Adrenaline from LG, will be upgraded to LTE Aug. 26 via a software update.
AT&T has committed to deploying LTE in four metropolitan areas; Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The company expects to deploy LTE across 70 million POPs in 15 markets by year-end. AT&T has said it plans to launch its first LTE smartphone by year-end and plans to add 20 4G devices to their device portfolio this year, with some of those being LTE capable.
Verizon, meanwhile, now has LTE service live in more than 100 markets and will expand to 175 markets covering 185 million POPs by year-end. Verizon charges $30 for 2 GB, $50 for 5 GB and $80 for 10 GB on its LTE network, for both data-only devices and smartphones. Verizon sold 1.2 million LTE devices in the second quarter, up from 500,000 in the first quarter.
AT&T is playing catch up to Verizon and Sprint Nextel in the 4G game. Both have true “4G” phones, using LTE and WiMAX, respectively.
In January, AT&T followed T-Mobile USA’s footsteps and rebranded their 3G HSPA+ network, with the 4G title. T-Mobile generally offers faster speed on their HSPA+ network, however, because they gang two AWS band channels together.
A leaked AT&T document shows the pricetag for expanding LTE coverage from 80 percent of Americans to 97 percent would only cost $3.8 billion. AT&T, without the merger, planned to cover 70 million Americans with LTE by the end of this year, 170 million by the end of 2012 and 250 million by the end of 2013, according to the document. But if the planned T-Mobile merger closes in 2012, it will actually be 2018 before the true benefits of the T-Mobile purchase come to fruition.
The company’s calculations appear to make the proposed $39 billion merger with T-Mobile highly questionable.
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