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AT&T, Verizon execs talk LTE expansion

At separate conferences this week, AT&T and Verizon Wireless announced expansion plans for their respective 4G LTE networks.

A few days after Clearwire and, by extension Sprint, announced a big expansion of their WiMax 4G network, representatives from AT&T and Verizon Wireless made their own 4G promises at separate conferences. Though both carriers have chosen the competing LTE standard for 4G, Verizon is in the lead.

At the Bank of America Merrill and Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference today in Newport Beach, Calif., AT&T Operations CEO John Stankey said the carrier will launch commercial LTE service by the middle of the next year. Stankey didn't specify initial cities, but he said AT&T is aiming to cover between 70 million and 75 million people by the end of 2011.

Meanwhile, Verizon dropped its own LTE news today at an IT conference in Bethesda, Md., Bernie McMonagle, a Verizon senior federal sales executive, told the audience that by the end of the year the carrier plans to launch its 4G service in the 30 metro areas with National Football League teams.

If the NFL-first strategy is correct, it will result in some geographic peculiarities. Though it will hit most major markets and cover almost 100 million people, Los Angeles, the nation's second largest city, will be left out in the cold for now. On the other hand, Green Bay, Wisc., home to Packer Country and a little more than 100,000 residents, could be in luck. Perhaps Verizon will play with the map just a bit.

The remainder of the country will get LTE in stages until 2013. Average speeds from Verizon's 4G network will most likely range from 5Mbps to 12Mbps for downloads and 2Mbps to 5Mbps for uploads.