AT&T’s LTE service has gone live in New York, reports TechCrunch, although it is not officially available. The service has yet to be announced by AT&T and it’s possible that it’s just temporarily available for testing.

TechCrunch staffers (using the recently announced LG Nitro HD) in Southern Manhattan, pulled average download speeds between 10 and 12.5 megabits per second. The HTC Vivid, Galaxy S II Skyrocket, and Galaxy Tab 8.9 also apparently work with it. No iPhones, of course.

BGR saw nearly 7Mbps down and about 9Mbps up. Engadget got download speeds of 8.5Mbps, and upstream rates of 2Mbps — on just two bars of signal.

AT&T’s LTE network is expected to expand rapidly the next two years, more than doubling in 2012, covering the majority of U.S. markets by the end of 2013. AT&T bought Aloha’s 12 MHz of spectrum in 2008, which covers many major metropolitan areas, including 72 of the top 100 and all of the top 10 in the U.S.

Those bands are supplemented by their 700 MHz purchase in the 2008 auction. AT&T has spectrum in the lower 700 MHz block, spread mostly between blocks B and C. Those are paired 6Mhz slices. Verizon consolidated everything into a single, wider, 11 MHz paired channel in C block, in the upper 700 MHz band.

But the 700 MHz band, unlike the AWS or PCS bands, is fragmented into several different Band Classes, explains Fierce Wireless. This means, for example, that Verizon Wireless’ 700 MHz LTE devices operate on a different flavor of LTE than AT&T’s devices, and the two are not interoperable.

The four different band classes within 700 MHz include class 12, 13, 14 and 17. Verizon acquired most of its spectrum in band class 13, while many of AT&T’s 700 MHz licenses sit in the lower C and B Blocks (class 17). A number of smaller operators (and AT&T) acquired 700 MHz spectrum licenses in the Lower A, B and C Blocks, which lie in band class 12.

There are a number of places where AT&T now has both the B and C block licenses in the Lower 700 MHz band. This gives it double the bandwidth – 24 MHz total – in those areas. Such areas include Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Washington.

Chicago, LA, and Miami are key cities missing from that list, because Verizon Wireless out-bid AT&T in those cities. Verizon made things much easier on itself by putting practically all its eggs into a single 22 MHz channel (the C-Block), nationwide. AT&T has a tougher job because it must juggle up to three different narrow spectrum slices, with different power requirements.

AT&T paid $6.636 billion to purchase 227 “B-block” licenses in the 2008 auction and combined it with “C-block” licenses it bought from Aloha Partners for $2.5 billion that covers 196 million people in 281 markets. The remaining 700 MHz “A-block” licenses, in the lower 700 MHz band, are mostly held by small, regional carriers. Verizon paid $9.6 billion for its single 22 MHz block on the upper 700 MHz band.

AT&T’s maps show improved “4G” coverage with the T-Mobile merger, due mostly from their AWS spectrum, although extending HSPA+ service on AWS spectrum may be AT&T’s actual plan, with so many legacy T-Mobile users.

Related Dailywireless article include, AT&T and Verizon: No 700 MHz Interoperability For You!, AT&T: Selling Assets for Merger Approval?, LTE: 6% By 2016, AT&T Merger in Trouble, iPhone 4S Fastest on AT&T, T-Mobile Expands HSPA+ 42, AT&T Looking To Sell Spectrum?, Combining AWS and 700 MHz: Why?, AT&T Gets Heat on MediaFLO Spectrum , Verizon and Cricket Swap Spectrum, Merger Salvage Plan by AT&T, DOJ Blocking AT&T/T-Mobile Merger, AT&T Merger: More Heat, Dish Network’s 700 MHz Spectrum, 700MHz: It’s Done!, AT&T Buys 700MHz from Aloha, Dish Network’s 700 MHz Spectrum, Spectrum Drama: Made for TV

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