AT&T’s 4G LTE launching Nov. 6 with new Samsung, HTC phones

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AT&T is launching its 4G LTE network Sunday along with two new 4G LTE smartphones in a bid to catch up with Verizon, which launched its 4G LTE network in December.

The first two AT&T 4G LTE handsets will be the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and the HTC Vivid.

The Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket is the AT&T’s second Galaxy S II, but there are a couple of differences between the two phones.

The previous Galaxy S II on AT&T had a 4.3-inch screen, ran on the HSPA+ network and sold for $200 on a two-year contract. The Galaxy S II Skyrocket gets the larger 4.5-inch screen found on Sprint and T-Mobile’s Galaxy S II variations, and runs on AT&T’s LTE network and is priced at $250 with a two-year data plan.


Both versions of the flagship Samsung phone feature Android Gingerbread with a modified user interface, a 1.5-gigahertz dual core processor, an 8-megapixel rear camera that can shoot up to 1080p video, a dual LED flash on the back, a 2-megapixel camera in front and 16-gigabytes of built-in storage.

The HTC Vivid will sell for $200 on a two-year contract and also features a 4.5-inch touch screen but with a screen resolution of 960 x 540 pixels to the Galaxy S II Skyrocket’s 800 x 480 pixels.

The Vivid has a 1.2-gigahertz dual core processor, 16 gigabytes of built-in storage, an 8-megapixel camera that can shoot 1080p video, a dual LED flash and a 1.3-megapixel camera in front. The Vivid gets Android Gingerbread skinned with the HTC Sense user interface.

AT&T’s 4G LTE data plans will be offered at the same prices as the carrier’s 3G and 4G HSPA+ plans. AT&T offers 200 megabytes of data for $15 a month and overage charges of $15 for an extra 200 megabytes of data. Another option is 2 gigabytes of data for $25 per month with an overage fee of $10 for each extra gigabyte of data.

When it launches, AT&T’s 4G LTE service will be offered in just five markets: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, the carrier said in a statement. However, AT&T has said it plans to expand its LTE coverage aggressively and that 4G LTE is where its network is headed.

Verizon has a hefty head start on AT&T and other rivals with its 4G LTE network currently offered in 165 markets.

AT&T has offered 4G phones for months, but its previous handsets ran on the company’s HSPA+ network, which offers theoretical top speeds of 42 megabytes per second for downloads and 23 megabytes per second for uploads.

LTE networks, from both AT&T and Verizon, have promised to be as much as 10 times fast than 3G networks, with speeds of theoretical top speeds of 300 megabytes pers second for downloads and 75 megabytes per second for uploads.

Of course, just how fast and how reliable a cellular network varies by city and by carrier. T-Mobile currently uses a HSPA+ 4G network and Sprint uses a technology called WiMax for its 4G service, but both are also looking to eventually switch to LTE networks as well. LTE refers to ‘long term evolution’ and is considered to be the most scalable of the 4G options for telecommunications companies.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles