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Friday September 16, 2011 11:33 am

AT&T launching its 4G LTE network on September 18

at&t 4g lteAT&T will light up its 4G LTE network on Sunday, Sept. 18, an exec said Thursday.

John Stephens, the CFO of AT&T, revealed the launch date at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Entertainment and Communications conference in Bellevue, Washington, according to Fierce Wireless. No locations were announced, but in May, AT&T said it would first hit Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

In August, another AT&T exec said the company was on track to debut 15 LTE markets and up to 75 million POPs (points of presence) by the end of the year. Next year's rollout pace will depend on regulatory approval of its proposed T-Mobile merger, which is currently in limbo.

AT&T reportedly demoed its LTE network in Plano, Texas, the location of AT&T's Foundry, which delivered speeds of 28.87 Mbits/s down and 10.4 Mbits/s up.

AT&T has already launched two LTE modems, the USBConnect Momentum 4G and Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G,, promised LTE upgrades for the older AT&T USBConnect Adrenaline, and showed off a prototype LTE phone this past January.

Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless, the first of the major carriers to launch the LTE 4G standard, lit up 26 more markets on its 4G coverage map today for a total of 146 markets. Earlier this year it announced plans to expand to 175 markets by the end of 2011.

Verizon's LTE network currently tops PC Mag's list of the "Fastest Mobile Networks 2011" by a long shot.

The key question is: what will be AT&T's next LTE device? Two weeks ago, AT&T announced the HTC Jetstream, a new 10.1-inch Honeycomb tablet that will support both LTE and HSPA+. And AT&T has previously said it will launch "at least one" LTE smartphone this year.

We're pretty sure it won't be the Apple iPhone 5, because current LTE chips are too bulky to meet Apple's slender aesthetics.

This article, written by Sara Yin, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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