AT&T LTE surfaces in San Francisco

Though AT&T hasn't officially switched on 4G in the San Francisco Bay Area, AT&T users are detecting LTE on their compatible phones.

The wait for 4G in your neighborhood can be interminable, especially if you're an AT&T customer.

It's here. It's AT&T. It's 4G. AC

Compared with Verizon's extensive LTE network, America's second largest carrier has limped along with just 15 cities covered by the end of last month. But tonight, just days CNET's Roger Cheng detected 4G service in New York City, AT&T users are noticing the same thing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

According to CNET reader Matt, the "LTE" icon appeared on the display of his Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket a short while ago. In Richmond, Calif., he got speeds of 18Mbps to 20Mbps down and 8Mbps to 9Mbps up while in Alameda, Calif., he detected speeds of 20Mbps to 22Mbps down and 9Mbps to 11Mbps up using Ookla's Speedtest app. Engadget also reported similar results, and in either case those are pretty terrific speeds.

Though AT&T promised yesterday that New York would get LTE by the end of the year, the carrier hasn't said the same San Francisco. So while the appearance of real (and not "fake" 4G) is exciting, this may be just a test and it could vanish at any time. Also, keep in mind that actual speeds may vary when it officially goes live.

I don't have an AT&T LTE smartphone on me at the moment to verify, but another helpful reader in the area sent me this screenshot. If you're in or around San Francisco and detecting LTE on your handset, please let me know in the comments.