It's a good day for next-gen network news, apparently -- first Verizon promised to bring its 4G network to 30 NFL cities
by the end of the year, and now AT&T's John Stankey says its LTE network will arrive by mid-2011. Trials are already underway in Baltimore and Dallas, and Ma Bell's pulled some $700 million out of the kitty to fund the buildout, with investment scheduled to go "far beyond that" next year. On top of that, AT&T is also working to upgrade its backhaul connections for its current HSPA 7.2 3G sites to Gigabit Ethernet, and it's planning to upgrade the vast majority of its 3G sites to HSPA+ for real-world 7Mbps 3G download speeds sometime this year -- a seemingly big expansion from the "certain locations"
we'd been promised earlier. Why the change? We don't know exactly, but AT&T is quick to point out that LTE customers will fall back to 3G quite often in the early days, and that Verizon isn't investing in 3G speeds at all anymore -- an interesting claim and potentially a major differentiator if the HSPA+ rollout is completed quickly, but one that won't matter if Verizon's network offers sufficient coverage. We'll see -- looks like the next year is going to be mighty interesting.