AT&T will invest $14 billion in the expansion of its LTE network. While AT&T is the second-largest cellular carrier in the US, it lags severely behind rival carrier Verizon in their deployment of LTE. While AT&T managed to sell a record-breaking number of iPhones with the launch of the iPhone 5, customers may decide to drop AT&T in favor of the more-robust Verizon network. The investment will be made over a three-year period, and would cover both wireless and wireline broadband networks. In a statement, AT&T said:
AT&T today announced plans to invest $14 billion over the next three years to significantly expand and enhance its wireless and wireline IP broadband networks to support growing customer demand for high-speed Internet access and new mobile, app and cloud services. The investment plan – Project Velocity IP (VIP) – expands AT&T's high-potential growth platforms, helping drive continued increases in revenues from existing and new products and services, and earnings per share.
AT&T LTE is currently available in a limited number of cities, though the company plans to cover 250 million people with LTE by the end of 2013. This new plan would cover 300 million people by the end of 2014. With almost every new device, flagship or not, launching with LTE support, the expansion of these networks is critical to the long-term viability of any carrier. With AT&T lagging behind in deployment, investments like these are necessary to remain competative. The growth of AT&T’s LTE network will also benefit iPhone users. Currently, the LTE capabilities of the iPhone 5 are not available to most of AT&T’s customers. As LTE covers more areas, more customers will be able to take full advantage of the higher speeds, giving customers a better and more complete experience than they currently enjoy.