AT&T in no rush to build out 4G network

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Apple's exclusive iPhone wireless carrier AT&T said this week it's in no hurry to begin deploying a fourth-generation wireless network, as it believes there's two to three years of "runway" left in its current and future 3G technologies.

Speaking at the 4G Executive Summit on Tuesday, AT&T's VP of Architecture Hank Kafka downplayed any perceived urgency on the part of the carrier to push out a 4G network based on LTE, or the so-called Long Term Evolution standard.

He said AT&T's existing HSPA 3G network already offers a superior mobile broadband experience to that of its primary rival Verizon, whose EV-DO technology sports a limited future.

“HSPA is more economical for carriers to deploy,” Kafka said, adding that the extendibility of the technology offers the ability for smooth transitions to new technology, such as his firm's upcoming 20Mbps HSPA+ 3G network planned for sometime next year.

The exec also cited the iPhone as a device that has only just begun to open the eyes of consumers to mobile broadband and its inherit internet capabilities.

When asked specifically about his company's 4G plans, Kafka reportedly danced around the subject, saying he couldn't provide a concrete answer because specifications for such technology aren't yet finalized.

“Future evolutions may meet 4G requirements, but for now, true 4G technologies don’t exist because the requirements haven’t been defined,” he said. 

With that said, Kafka added that he’d be surprised if LTE wasn’t significantly available "within five years." In the meantime, AT&T has about two to three years of "runway left with HSPA and HSPA-plus," he told the summit.

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