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AT & T debuts LTE devices, data pricing

Wed, 08/17/2011 - 8:05am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

AT&T hasn't launched its LTE network yet, but that's not stopping the company from showing off its first two devices for the service, a USB dongle and a mobile hotspot.

The company said yesterday it would begin selling the LTE-capable Momentum USB modem and Elevate mobile hotspot on Aug. 21. The gadgets will fall back to AT&T's HSPA+ network when users travel outside of the operator's LTE coverage.

The devices will be offered ahead of the launch of AT&T's LTE network, which is slated to go live later this summer in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

AT&T also plans to upgrade its Adrenaline USB modem to LTE through a software update, which will begin rolling out on Aug. 26. The Adrenaline does not have the capability to fall back to the operator's HSPA+ network, unlike the operator's two other LTE-capable devices.

AT&T also released details about pricing for its LTE service. The operator plans to charge $50 for 5 GB of data per month, plus $10 for each gigabyte of data consumed beyond a customer's monthly limit. The pricing is the same as Verizon's 5 GB plan, which also charges $50, plus $10 per gigabyte over the data cap.

Verizon Wireless is well ahead of AT&T in its LTE rollout. The operator first launched its next-generation mobile broadband network in December of last year, and the service currently covers 160 million U.S. residents. By the end of 2011, Verizon plans to expand its network to cover 185 million people.

In contrast, AT&T says its LTE network will cover 70 million people in 15 markets by the end of the year. The operator's LTE plans could be complicated by possible delays in the approval process for its acquisition of T-Mobile USA, which it plans to use in the construction of its new network.

AT&T will also have to catch up to Clearwire's WiMAX network, which covers 132 million people. MetroPCS also offers LTE, and U.S. Cellular said in May it plans to deploy its own LTE network in two dozen markets before the end of the year.

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