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It's official: AT&T launches 4G LTE

Older smartphones to continue to use HSPA+

Posted: March 6, 2013 - 5:26pm  |  Updated: March 7, 2013 - 2:16am
After just a few days of tests, AT&T has announced the official launch of its 4G Long Term Evolution broadband system in Juneau. The communications company replaced its upgraded 3G service, HSPA+, with the faster and higher bandwidth LTE technology.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
After just a few days of tests, AT&T has announced the official launch of its 4G Long Term Evolution broadband system in Juneau. The communications company replaced its upgraded 3G service, HSPA+, with the faster and higher bandwidth LTE technology.

After several days of testing AT&T has announced the official rollout of its 4G Long Term Evolution broadband network in Juneau.

AT&T’s new network replaces its previous Evolved High Speed Packet Access network. HSPA+ is considered the pinnacle of 3G technology while 4G LTE is the base of the next technological mountain.

Broadband 3G service rang in the era of high-speed Internet access and quality video and audio streaming. HSPA+ brought this technology up to theoretical download speed of 168 megabits per second, approaching that of 4G LTE.

With a theoretical download speed of 300Mbps Long Term Evolution networks are a complete redesign of the 3G system and uses a different wireless spectrum. Data phones and wireless broadband hotspots therefore must be LTE enabled to enjoy the new network. However, owners of phones such as the iPhone 4 with HSPA+ won’t lose their familiar service.

“Customers with HSPA+ enabled devices will continue to enjoy 4G that is [three times] faster than 3G,” Andy Colley spokesperson for AT&T said in a recent email interview. Examples of AT&T devices that work on its LTE network are the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Nokia Lumia 920, the MiFi Liberate and iPad mini.

The download speeds listed above are theoretical, and most customers can expect speeds around 10Mbps.

The time it takes to process data through a network, latency, is lowered with LTE technology. It now takes less time for videos or web pages to start downloading once the request is sent.

“Lower latency helps to improve services like mobile gaming, two-way video calling and telemedicine,” according to an AT&T press release. “LTE also uses spectrum more efficiently than other technologies, creating more space to carry data traffic and services…”

AT&T’s new network comes as part of wireless upgrades made in Juneau during 2012.

“These upgrades included activating new cell sites, adding capacity, deploying high-capacity Ethernet connections to cell sites and upgrading cell sites so that today we can provide 4G LTE to people in Juneau,” Scott Meyers director of sales for AT&T Mobility in Alaska said in a press release.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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