AT&T’s pouting that T-Mobile’s labeling HSPA+ as 4G is “misleading customers” and is something they wouldn’t do hasn’t stopped them from doing just that at the CES and on their website. They claim they will be “evolving to 4G speeds” with the LTE standard by mid 2011 and they further claim that they’ve already completed HSPA+ coverage to “virtually 100%” of its customers. That doesn’t mean that virtually 100% of you AT&T people have at least graduated from EDGE, does it? Getting six megabits?

AT&T claims they’ll be offering a handful of 4G devices in the first half of the year, though not specifying if they’d support LTE and not just 4G, and a total of twenty “4G” devices by the end of the year, already announcing four of them which I’ll get into shortly.

ralphy2AT&T’s talking up Android a lot, which is probably what I’d do were I losing iPhone exclusivity – scratch that, regardless: “Today we are the clear leader when it comes to offering the most extensive line-up of handsets and devices. We plan to strengthen our portfolio with powerful 4G devices and a major new commitment to offer an industry-leading portfolio of Android devices.

That was backed up with Google’s phone megaman Andy Rubin: “The upcoming lineup of 4G Android smartphones from AT&T is truly cutting-edge.” Coming soon AT&T’s got the HTC Inspire 4G, the Motorola Astrix 4G and Samsung Infuse 4G, none of which are WP7 and all of which are Android. There was no mention of the iPhone, not even Windows Phone. They’re going all-in on Android, a 180, and if they can catch up a bit to Verizon on LTE deployment (Verizon’s already deployed LTE in at least thirty cities I believe, that’s another 180.

ralphy6But why would they do that? They’re making good money providing what I claim to be chronically mediocre service in my little town and Frisco, why go out and spend a fortune on all this 4G stuff. My first guess is that it’s a feeble effort to jumpstart some stock growth. Try to name in your head a company whose value relative to its earnings (P/E) is any lower than AT&T’s then look it up to see if you were right, or take my word for it that their stock is regarded as a dog. Or a “shitty deal” to quote Senator Levin Grills. The little 1% / $0.40 boost their stock saw this CES week, were it larger, would be called a dead cat bounce, as in spite of this grand tire spinning they’re still flat like said dead cat but run over a few times which caused hot air to explode out of its body, poor little fella.

ralphy7Second guess, they’re on tilt about Verizon with their LTE this and their CDMA iPhone that and Droid after Droid, so they either want to step their game up for the sake of pure competition or they just want to appear to be stepping their game up while everyone’s tuned in in order to get a small boost while they take a couple extra years to deploy LTE, giving themselves a little room using language like “evolving.” Hopefully both.

ralphy8So that’s some good news with what Rubin said about their Android phones (I’d better sell my Nexus One right now) and if you want to believe them even better news about their network. I imagine that if they can crank up the juice to take advantage of LTE, while they’re at it there’s a chance they might do a little something (probably not) to improve (or create I should say) service in midtown Manhattan finally.

I wasn’t in the audience but according to the Seattle Times AT&T did not mention Windows Phone, not once. This was all about 4G (HSPA+ and LTE+) and Android, some network promises as well as three product announcements, the identified ones being all Android with at least twelve out of the twenty they intend to launch being Android devices. No word on WP7 though? What’s up with that?

Doug Simmons

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  1. Tampa already has it in the Metro areas, waiting on devices. The HTC Surround has 3.5G on it’s spec sheet, what’s 3.5G?

  2. I think it’s what they decided to call UMTS/HDSPA/HSUPA. I’m seeing conflicting things but it appears that your phone is not HSPA+. If it were however, based on this man’s statement that virtually 100% of AT&T’s customers have HSPA+, you should be able to download in the neighborhood of 7Mbps. Amazon says it has HSPA+ (though some commenter disagrees along with Wikipedia).

    How ’bout doing a speed test for us?

  3. hspa+ is actually misleading. you cant really get the full use out of hspa right now and hspa+ is just a higher speed cap. and not as high as lte and wimax are capable of so i really think it shouldnt be roped in with those 4g networks. tmobile should really jump on the lte bandwagon. wimax should be the fastest by now and it just isnt and its coverage doesnt seem to be expanding fast anymore. i hold my last hope in lte. it runs off existing gsm networks like hspa+ and has the fastest speed limitations. watch at&t and verizon screw it up. >_<

  4. Well, from what I’ve read and understand at least, and I could be off here, HSPA+ theoretically tops out at 84Mbps, LTE 100Mbps, WiMAX 40. Like LTE, HSPA+ is or can be entirely IP based and phones would be always on (data), significantly better battery life. The ITU at least does not contest that it’s kosher to call all of those 4G.

    And given the natural progression of the numbers two three and four and the difference American consumers have grown to associate with EDGE to UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA, a jump to what sounds like might be five or six megabits at least whether it’s LTE, HSPA+ or WiMAX (I would be surprised if they were much higher than that consistently and in dense areas), maybe it’s in everyone’s interests to go ahead and let them all brand it accordingly. Sell more phones. However fast it will be, none of them will touch 40Mbps let alone 20 sustained in the States and in Manhattan and AT&T I think they’re years, as in more than two, from a double digit speed.

    Wimax has a revision in the works (?) that may go up to 1gbps.

    Any idea if any of these standards can, say, handle more phones on a single tower versus another, have a longer range, have a shorter range but higher speeds further out, the opposite and how much, if there’s any difference, these different things might drain a phone’s battery versus the phone doing the same thing on the other two?

    Looks like LTE is the new “it” standard. As long as Sprint and T-Mobile have something other than LTE that they’re calling 4G and since enough of us have heard those three letters I think we’ll see almost as much buzz noise about LTE as we would just 4G.

  5. Feels like Microsoft missed an opportunity to get AT&T to form an Apple-like relationship with them, to pump Windows Phone phones like crazy, whatever the cost to Microsoft, and get that thing out there. Instead AT&T’s all Android suddenly. Not dumb of AT&T but I’m just surprised Microsoft wasn’t more persuasive to get AT&T to cool it for a minute with all the Blackberry Torch ads.

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