12:58 PM

AT&T Plans Fast 4G Wireless Rollout

AT&T's wireless operation plans to move its infrastructure to Long Term Evolution, a high-speed standard that many service providers are expected to adopt.

AT&T is betting that its relative freedom to operate without onerous FCC oversight will let it deploy advanced-generation mobile phone communications relatively quickly. AT&T and Verizon Wireless were the big winners in the recent FCC auction of spectrum in the 700-MHz band.

When the FCC gag order forbidding public discussion of 700 MHz auction results was lifted Thursday night, AT&T reported that the 700-MHz spectrum in the C block acquired from Aloha Partners last fall, combined with prime B block spectrum acquired in the FCC auction, will help it quickly roll out its nationwide fourth-generation wireless network.

"Our winning bids for B block spectrum, combined with the C block spectrum we acquired from Aloha Partners, significantly enhances AT&T's spectrum portfolio, which is already one of the broadest, highest-quality, and most efficient in the country," said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T's wireless unit, in a statement.

De la Vega noted that AT&T's spectrum is not subject to the strict regulations imposed on the C block spectrum won by Verizon Wireless. "With fewer costly and complex regulations, we have the certainty and flexibility needed to move faster in rolling out new mobile technology and more customer choices in devices and applications," de la Vega said.

AT&T's wireless operation will move from its current GSM-based infrastructure to Long Term Evolution, or LTE, the high-speed standard that's expected to be used eventually by all mobile phone service providers. De la Vega also hinted at the CTIA show in Las Vegas this week that AT&T may utilize the open source Android system promoted by Google. Other service providers and manufacturers, including T-Mobile, Sprint, and LG Electronics, have also expressed interest in Android.

De la Vega said AT&T believes it can use Android for data and content, which would make the operating system more attractive than just using it for searching on mobile phones.

AT&T said it expects to deliver AT&T 3G services to nearly 350 major U.S. markets by the end of the year.

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