/// Verizon’s LTE Map Is Nearly Complete, but All Four Major Carriers Are Starting to Fill in the Dots
At the beginning of 2013, Verizon Wireless had the clear lead when it came to LTE coverage, so much so that it launched an ad campaign comparing rivals’ coverage maps to modern art. But over the course of 2013, the picture has started to change. Verizon still has the most areas covered, with the high-speed service in 500 U.S. markets, covering 303 million people. But the others are catching up. AT&T is Verizon’s nearest competitor, with LTE service currently in 488 markets, covering more than 250 million people. AT&T expects to end the year with its LTE rollout 90 percent completed, covering 270 million people, with the remaining work to be done by next summer. Sprint launched LTE service in 70 cities last week, bringing its total to 300 markets, while T-Mobile’s most recent public number was that it has LTE in 254 metro areas, covering 203 million people. In all, it’s a much different picture than the one painted by Verizon’s ad, which depicts coverage maps as they stood much earlier this year. As we’ve noted, with so much of the nation now covered by LTE on all four major networks, much of the attention is starting to shift to the ways in which carriers are improving LTE speeds and capacity . On that front, T-Mobile recently launched improved service in North Dallas, where the company is taking advantage of increased spectrum acquired via MetroPCS. Sprint is using its Clearwire spectrum to build out its next-generation service, dubbed Spark, while Verizon Wireless is using its spectrum holdings in the AWS range to boost its coverage in major cities. Verizon started that effort this quarter, and aims to end the year with 5,000 cell sites using the technology by year’s end, primarily in high-demand areas in cities including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta.