AT&T jumped to the head of the line in the smartphone speed competition yesterday, rolling out the fastest wireless technology available in Columbus and other Ohio markets.
The 4G rollout “is all about keeping AT&T competitive with Verizon,” said technology analyst Jeff Kagan. “Verizon and AT&T are the two heavy hitters when it comes to these high-speed networks.”
Before the rollout, AT&T was “about a year behind Verizon,” said Francis Sideco, senior principal analyst for wireless at IHS iSuppli, a technology market-research firm.
Both AT&T and Verizon are rushing to serve the heavy hitters in the smartphone market. When Apple introduced the iPhone 5 in September, for example, it made a point of noting that it was the first version to support 4G LTE networks.
AT&T customers who already have 4G LTE-capable smartphones don’t have to make changes to their data plans, but they do need to check with AT&T to ensure that their device is compatible with the faster service, AT&T officials said.
The 4G LTE technology, which is reported to be 10 times faster than the 3G standard, stands for ” fourth-generation long-term evolution.” The acronym isn’t just a slogan, said AT&T Ohio Vice President Rob Reynolds, but an indication that the technology “is the network for the foreseeable future.”
“Where 4G LTE comes in better is in any kind of real-time services, like video calling, video streaming, multiplayer gaming,” Sideco said.
“It delivers high-speed connectivity and bandwidth so that people can use these new apps — music, video clips, movies — all the things that take a lot of data,” Kagan said.
AT&T has spent more than $1 billion in the past three years in Ohio — or about $1 million a day — to improve its network, including $212 million in the first six months of this year, Reynolds said.
Although not all of that money was spent on 4G LTE, much was. AT&T officials said they expect the investment in Ohio to continue through the end of the year.
Nationally, AT&T plans to spend $22 billion on capital investment each year for the next three years, chiefly on broadband wireless technology. AT&T Ohio officials have yet to announce what chunk of that will go to Ohio.
Beyond personal use, the 4G LTE rollout is important to businesses, said Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer. Not only does the rollout keep AT&T competitive with such rivals as Verizon, which began introducing its 4G service in parts of the Columbus area two years ago, but “Developing this infrastructure is directly related to jobs,” he said.
“These investments keep us competitive in the global economy. Waterways, railways and roadways were the infrastructure of the past. Broadband wireless is the infrastructure of the future. The difference between today and the past is the speed that this new infrastructure is developing.”Source: The Columbus Dispatch