AT&T 4G architecture and the LTE battle

Mike Jude/Frost & Sullivan
02 Mar 2011

At its developers’ conference in January, AT&T announced the launch of significant new initiatives in the evolution of its wireless network.


Undoubtedly aware of its relatively quiet market position in 4G network technology deployment compared to Verizon and Sprint, AT&T chose the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) -- the day after its developers’ conference -- to dramatically up the ante in the 4G network space.


AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega opened the developer conference by noting that by 2014, nearly 50% of all cell phones would be smartphones. While this is a much higher estimate than some market analysts have projected, it is nevertheless a quantum jump in smartphone penetration compared to today’s market.


As de la Vega pointed out, these smartphones will need a network to ride on, and it seems that LTE will be the AT&T 4G network architecture of choice.


While Verizon captured the buzz in 2010 when it announced it had successfully deployed limited LTE access to 38 US markets, AT&T has always had a technology advantage with its HSPA+ network infrastructure.


The reason is that HSPA and LTE share a common technological base. Upgrading an HSPA network to LTE is much less complex and expensive than upgrading from a completely different technology base, as Verizon is doing with its EV-DO 3G network.


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