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AT&T Making Noise about 4G, Android

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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