AT&T To Officially Light Up LTE Network This Weekend

AT&T CFO John Stevens dropped a bit of a bombshell while speaking at a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch event today. According to him, AT&T will officially launch their LTE network in five markets this weekend.

Assuming they have either an LTE modem or a needlessly-expensive HTC tablet, customers in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio will be able to jump on the fledgling high-speed network on Sunday, September 18. Data plans start at $50 for 5GB of use, which puts them right on par with most other mobile broadband providers.

Even though Verizon has had a substantial head start in building out their LTE network, AT&T claims that their data speeds are right on par with their red-swathed rivals. Hopefully it turns out to be true — This is my next performed some preliminary tests when the network soft-launched in Chicago, only to see disappointing results.

Still, that could all be chalked up to some pre-launch jitters. AT&T has big hopes for their LTE roll-out: they aim to cover an additional 70 million customers, and have their first LTE smartphone on shelves by year’s end. In contrast, FierceWireless reports that thanks to their head start, Verizon plans to cover 175 markets and nearly 185 million subscribers by the same time.