AT&T released its first two major forays into the 4G LTE market at a showcase on Tuesday. Although AT&T's 4G LTE network isn't up and functional yet, that hasn't stopped them from trying to gain some momentum by releasing the two new LTE products.
The first two major AT&T LTE products show a devoted commitment by the Dallas-based company to get involved in the competitive market. While some might have hoped for a LTE phone, AT&T decided to play it a little safer with a USB stick and a mobile WI-Fi hotspot.
The USBConnect Momentum 4G, which will retail for $50 with a two-year contract, is a black modem box that can connect to Windows and Mac OS computers. The Elevate 4G will go for $70 with a contract and its main feature might be its 1.77 inch, 160-by-128 pixel LCD screen. The screen can display battery life, signal indicators, and even how many minutes of the usage plan have been used.
LTE, which stands for Long Term Evolution, has become the major focus for most mobile phone companies. It's billed as the speediest wireless connection and the current future of the industry.
Verizon has sold LTE products since December, despite not having its network up right away either, so it's not shocking that AT&T would attempt to join in on the fun.
AT&T claims that its 4G LTE is three times faster than its regular 4G network and 10 times faster its 3G network, but those claims have yet to be officially substantiated.
As of right now AT&T's 4G network actually doesn't qualify as 4G but instead as HSPA+. HSPA+ is essentially a suped up version of 3G and the company is hoping to make an easy transition from HSPA+ to an actual 4G LTE network as soon as possible.
Our customers will have the benefit of access to both our LTE network and our HSPA+ network, Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of devices for AT&T, told CNET News. This will provide a much more compelling and consistent speed experience as customers travel across our network.
AT&T will initially be rolling out its LTE service this summer to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. There are also plans to expand to as many as 15 additional markets by the end of the year.
Even with those markets, AT&T would still lag far behind Verizon Wireless. Verizon's 4G LTE is already in 77 markets and the company expects to be in 175 by the end of the year.
Still the announcement shows that AT&T is financially committed to exploring the 4G LTE network and attempting to give Verizon a run for the top spot in the market.