YAKIMA, Wash. — AT&T customers in Yakima expressed delight over the weekend when they saw the “LTE” status show up on their cellphones. (See various posts below).
LTE is 4G LTE, a fourth-generation cellular data network that cellphone providers claim offer speeds fast enough to stream high-definition video and other high-bandwidth content.
(See a Storify project related to the LTE deployment below this article.)
One local AT&T customer posted a photo of a recent speed test that showed data speeds of nearly 25 megabits per second, which would be similar to speeds that consumers can get to a standard cable Internet connection.
Up until this weekend, most local AT&T subscribers had access to a fourth-generation cellular data network known as Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (or HSPA+), which offer speeds faster than previous generations of cellular data networks, but was not as fast as LTE.
The network can be accessed by phones with an LTE antenna. For example, the iPhone 4S can access the 4G HSPA+ network, but not LTE (iPhone 5 is the only Apple phone that can access the LTE network).
But what AT&T customers saw over this weekend was not an official rollout, said AT&T spokesman Andy Colley in an email to the Yakima Herald-Republic.
“We’ve been actively testing 4G LTE in Yakima for several days, and customers with 4G LTE-capable devices may have seen areas where 4G LTE was live on their phone,” he said.
Colley did not provide details on when the network would officially roll out, but confirmed it’s in the works.
“Preparing our network to offer 4G LTE in Yakima is a direct result of a $1.8 billion in our Washington networks from 2010 through 2012, and approximately 20 wireless network upgrades in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Walla Walla and Yakima last year that included activating new cell sites, adding capacity, and upgrading cell sites to now provide fast 4G LTE mobile Internet,” he said.