published Thursday, April 11th, 2013

AT&T to bring 4G to Chattanooga this summer

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    This cell tower in North Chattanooga is one of many in Hamilton County.

Chattanooga's AT&T Wireless customers can hold their heads high, no longer relegated to second place when it comes to 4G coverage.

Starting this summer, AT&T Wireless customers in Chattanooga will receive the same Long Term Evolution speeds that Verizon customers have enjoyed since June 2011.

AT&T will boast a theoretically faster wireless connection than both T-Mobile and Sprint, both of which still depend on older HSPA+ technology to achieve 4G speeds.

Though AT&T cannot specify when, exactly, LTE will become available, it will be before the end of summer, said Cathy Lewandowski, spokeswoman for AT&T Corporate Communications.

"We expect that in most markets our 4G LTE download speeds will range from 5 to 12 Mbps, with significantly higher average speeds in many markets, and upload speeds in the 2 to 5 Mbps range," Lewandowski said.

In layman's terms, that means that wireless customers can now surf at speeds that roughly match what's available to the average U.S. home Internet customer.

The company invested almost $1.4 billion into Tennessee's wireless and wired infrastructure over the last two years, though AT&T doesn't break that expense down by market or separate its wireless and wired costs.

The company also will continue to offer wireless hotspots -- which allow unlimited data usage for most customers -- as well as large distributed antenna systems in a few of Chattanooga's larger venues.

In rural areas without LTE access, customers will automatically be downgraded to still-quick HSPA+ service, which is a boosted version of 3G technology.

T-Mobile plans to eventually roll out LTE, but has not announced specific plans for Chattanooga.

Sprint has rolled out LTE in Calhoun, Ga., and Rome, Ga., but has not yet reached Chattanooga, despite announcing in 2012 that it plans to add service here soon.

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6315.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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