It appears that the combination of Verizon's advertising and customer complaints have taken their toll on AT&T. The company had planned to move from its existing wireless architecture, which uses HSPA 7.2 (capable of theoretical download speeds up to 7.2Mbps) but without sufficient backhaul capacity in all locations to support that speed, to LTE, which offers theoretical speeds of 100Mbps down and 50Mbps up, starting in late 2011. (There's a huge difference between theoretical and actual; Verizon achieved LTE download speeds of from 5Mbps to 12Mbps and uploads from 2Mbps to 5Mbps in tests in Boston earlier this year.)
Last week, however, AT&T announced that it will implement HSPA+ in most locations, which has a maximum theoretical download speed of 14.4Mbps, by the end of this year. Customers in areas with limited backhaul capacity will see little or no improvement. What's likely is that AT&T will increase its backhaul capacity during the rest of this year and 2011, and then start implementing LTE late next year. Meanwhile, Verizon will have LTE live in 25 to 30 markets by the end of this year, and will have as many as five LTE phones available for customers by mid-2011. Once again, AT&T's strategy of minimizing its plant and equipment investments with "good enough" technology will keep it at a competitive disadvantage for at least another year.