Krish Prabhu, CEO of AT&T Labs: We’ll roll out LTE-Advanced in 2013, promise

Krish Prabhu, the CEO of AT&T Labs, made a statement at the LTE North America conference in Dallas, Texas that’ll likely get him in trouble. He spilled the beans about AT&T’s LTE-Advanced roadmap, saying that the operator will start supporting that technology at some point in 2013. When FierceWireless asked for confirmation from an AT&T spokesperson, they nodded their head confirming that what Prabhu said was indeed true, though the look on their faces suggested they we’re kind of pissed this information got out a bit too early. Maybe Prabhu’s slipup was intentional since last month Sprint announced that they’d launch LTE-Advanced in 2013, and that their LTE (not LTE-Advanced) network should cover up to 270 million Americans by the end of that year as well. Right now AT&T has LTE in only a handful of markets, with their goal being to cover around 75 million people by the end of this year. Verizon on the other plans on covering over 180 million people with their LTE by this holiday season.

Now there’s one thing about AT&T’s network that doesn’t get talked about a lot, and that’s 3G. With both Sprint and Verizon, when you’re not in a WiMAX or LTE coverage area you get kicked back to EV-DO, which never gets more than 2 megabits per second on even a good day. AT&T on the other hand is in the process of updating their towers to support 21 Mbps HSPA+ and eventually 42 Mbps HSPA+. What does that mean? When the folks at PC Mag tested the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and HTC Vivid, both of which support AT&T’s LTE network, they found that they could get up to 13 megabits per second while connected in areas without LTE connectivity, meaning the HSPA+ areas. That’s over 6x faster than EV-DO.

At the end of the day though, do you really need more than a megabit or two per second on your smartphone? For road warriors, hell no, but for most people they’re not going to notice their friend’s Facebook photos loading half a second faster.

[Photo of the AT&T Control Center]

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