AT&T fires up LTE in Seattle and Portland in time for iPhone 5

The two cities are the latest to tap into AT&T's 4G LTE network, just in time for the new iPhone.

AT&T mobile subscribers in Seattle and Portland can now grab their own slice of LTE.

The carrier announced today that it has turned the switch on its high-speed network for customers in both cities. That brings AT&T's total number of LTE-enabled markets to 72.

Earlier this month, the company activated 4G LTE access in Anchorage, Alaska, Bakersfield, Calif., Jacksonville, Fla., Modesto, Calif., Omaha, Neb., Syracuse, N.Y., and Bridgeport, Conn.

An AT&T spokesman told CNET that the company plans to reach a total of 100 cities by the end of 2012 and complete its LTE rollout by the end of 2013.

Subscribers can find other cities scheduled to be upgraded by selecting the Coverage option and then the "Click here to see the list of 4G LTE cities" link on the company's network coverage Web page.

AT&T has been hard at work expanding its LTE network. But it still lags behind Verizon Wireless, which currently covers more than 370 cities. Both companies are gearing up for the iPhone 5 rollout this Friday, and both offer their own advantages.

Obviously, Verizon's reach is wider, so more customers can benefit from the new iPhone's 4G LTE capability.

Verizon has traditionally earned higher marks than AT&T at network reliability and customer satisfaction. But a May survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index found that satisfaction with Verizon had dipped at the same time it rose for AT&T.

For iPhone 5 buyers, AT&T offers another plus over Verizon as well as Sprint.

AT&T's network lets users talk and access the Internet at the same time while using LTE. Verizon and Sprint both lack that capability with the new iPhone, though not with other 4G smartphones. iPhone 5 users on either carrier will still be able to chat and surf simultaneously, but only on a Wi-Fi network.