AT&T Gets Into Arkansas 4G Market

More than a year after competitor Verizon Wireless launched its 4G LTE service in Arkansas, AT&T has joined the party.

Until recently, Verizon boasted the only Long Term Evolution service in the state. LTE is the fastest available network for smartphones and tablets.

Last October, AT&T was still rolling out its 4G product, an Evolved High Speed Packet Access network. So called “HSPA+” is slower than LTE but was compatible with more devices. AT&T considered it a middle step between 3G and LTE.

At this time last year, Verizon’s LTE service was available in seven Arkansas cities. Now, it’s available throughout about half the state, and the company estimates it will totally cover the state by the end of 2013.

“I’m not sure why we’d want a mid-level tier,” Verizon’s former south-central region president, Steve Smith, said last year. “At the end of the day … AT&T is building out an HSPA+; we’re building out LTE, the next generation.”

Now, AT&T is also building that next generation, but it’s behind its competitor. In Arkansas, AT&T’s LTE is available only in the Little Rock area and a few markets in northwest Arkansas. A spokeswoman for AT&T said the company expects to have LTE available for 99 percent of its customers by the end of 2014.