Columbus-area customers of AT&T wireless may have noticed faster data speeds of late on their smartphones and tablets of late. That’s because 4G LTE is now up and running, the company said Wednesday.
AT&T also said Americus, Ga., about 60 miles south of Columbus in Sumter County, now has the state-of-the-art technology as well.
“We continue to see demand for mobile Internet skyrocket, and our 4G LTE network in Columbus responds to what customers want from their mobile experience — more, faster, reliably, on the best devices,” Terry Smith, AT&T’s regional director of external affairs, said in a statement.
4G LTE, or “fourth-generation long-term evolution,” is the current industry standard for technology used to not only connect basic voice calls, but also to provide the high-speed data transmission used for today’s array of technology gadgets.
The upgrade to the latest system has taken time, with A&T investing money in new cellular sites across the city. Late last year, it performed work locally on at least 30 sites to “increase the density” of its network locally to prepare for Tuesday’s announcement that 4G LTE has been “turned on” for customers here.
The Columbus market had trailed Georgia as a whole, however, with the metro areas of Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Brunswick, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Rome, Savannah, Valdosta and Warner Robins receiving 4G LTE in 2013. The company previously cited lack of spectrum for the speedier technology as the reason for the slower rollout in Columbus.
The stated goal of the company is to cover more than 300 million Americans by the end of this year. In early March, it said the investment in Georgia’s wireless and wired-line systems is approaching $5 billion over the last three years as part of its “Project Velocity IP.”
AT&T on Wednesday said 4G LTE customers can expect much faster uploads, downloads and streaming of data — including during gaming sessions — on their mobile phones, tablets and laptops using Wi-Fi cards or more than 32,000 of its own mobile hotspots across the nation in businesses and other public venues. Reliability and coverage areas also should improve, it said.
AT&T competitor Verizon Wireless launched 4G LTE in the Columbus market in July 2012, while T-Mobile and Sprint have rolled out the new technology since then.
Next up, apparently, for the Columbus market will be AT&T’s U-Verse service for homes, which uses fiber-optic technology for television, high-speed Internet and phone service. A check of the company’s website shows Internet and phone service is now offered in Columbus and Phenix City, although TV is not yet available.
“LTE deployment is independent of U-Verse,” AT&T media relations manager Ann Elsas said via email Wednesday. “We are continuing to roll out U-Verse in Georgia, most recently in Augusta. We can’t share a specific timeline, but Columbus is certainly on our radar for U-Verse deployment in the months ahead.”