AT&T commits to LTE, names equipment partners

Almost exactly a year after Verizon Wireless named its LTE equipment partners, AT&T has done the same. And like Verizon, AT&T has chosen Swedish wireless technology provider Ericsson and French telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent, to make the transition from 3G to LTE more streamlined.

Rather than start fresh and attempt to install all new hardware at its cell sites, AT&T is going for hardware that is easily upgradeable. All 3G equipment purchased from the Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent this year will be easily convertible to LTE, AT&T said.

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Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent will be the suppliers for AT&T's Radio Access Network Domain, also known as the middle tier between the users and the central AT&T network. It's called a "domain" because it is part of AT&T's Domain Supplier program which launched last September. In this program, only two suppliers are selected to work on each part of AT&T's network, and they're given multi-year contracts which include not only immediate goals, but also goals for the future. That way, the contractors can develop systems that can evolve, and AT&T can worry less about legacy systems.

This year, AT&T says it will upgrade the fiber backhaul to its cell sites to boost 3G speeds and pave the way for its first LTE-compatible sites next year.

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