‘We’re faster’, AT&T’s Stephenson tells GTB

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CEO Randall Stephenson says AT&T will back up LTE network in US with 3G network that’s faster than Verizon’s

AT&T chief Randall Stephenson has responded to Verizon Wireless’s plans to launch LTE by starting a 4G speed war in an interview with Global Telecoms Business.
In an exclusive interview with GTB, Stephenson says AT&T will cover 70 million people across the US by the end of 2011 — and has a significant advantage over Verizon Wireless, because AT&T already has a fast 3G network that will provide a broadband wireless service outside the 4G LTE coverage area.
“The one thing you have to avoid is for customers on a six to seven meg [LTE] experience to fall back to something sub-meg,” Stephenson told GTB. “It’s very important to have a 3G layer with the 4G on top. The beauty of this is the handsets are forwards and backwards compatible.”
AT&T has upgraded it 3G network to HSPA running at 7.2 megabits, said Stephenson, “and we’re now on path to have HSPA+ largely deployed throughout the country by the end of this year”. This will run at up to 20 megabits. Verizon Wireless’s 3G network, which runs on the Qualcomm EV-DO standard, is slower than HSPA, he said.
Stephenson admitted that Verizon Wireless “has been very aggressive” with its LTE plans. “But we have a very elegant path, just working the [HSPA] speed up and up while you’re working to get the LTE ramped, and then you step off to LTE.”
GTB will publish the full interview with Stephenson online on http://www.globaltelecomsbusiness.com on December 8 2010 and in the next print issue of the magazine. GTB