AT&T Apparently Realized It Needs to Get Moving on LTE

AT&T (s T) today said it will launch its fourth-generation Long Term Evolution network by the middle of next year, and it will cover 70 to 75 million people by the end of 2011. John Stankey, CEO of operations at the nation’s second-largest wireless network, said at an investor conference today that the carrier would spend $700 million this year rolling out the faster networks with trials set for Dallas and Baltimore. AT&T has basically added more details to its previous LTE timing, but man, do I wish I were in Dallas (and trust me, I never say that).

With AT&T saying that the city will be a trial network, the home to the Cowboys will soon have at least four LTE networks. Along with AT&T, Dallas-based Metro PCS (s pcs) is expected to roll out an LTE network in the next month, followed eventually by LightSquared, the maybe-it’ll-happen-maybe-it-won’t, upstart network backed by Harbinger Capital Partners. Verizon’s (s vz) LTE network is expected to launch in Dallas in the coming months as well. For more on Metro PCS’s plan, come to our Mobilize conference on Sept. 30 to see me interview Metro PCS COO Tom Keyes.

Dallas is a telecom city, so it makes sense that the networks get rolled out where many of the equipment suppliers’ network engineers live, but I can’t wait to travel up there in a few months with the appropriate modems and start testing networks and experiencing the future of mobile broadband. With theoretical speeds of up to 150 Mbps down (and real speeds of between 5-12 Mbps according to Verizon) the future will be fast, and that’s a good thing, because lately the types of websites I’m running for work are making my Mi-Fi on Verizon’s 3G network feel a wee bit pokey, and I’m not even trying to run video. Meanwhile, for those who can’t wait until next year — or the 225 million-odd people who won’t be covered at the launch of AT&T’s network — remember, Ma Bell is deploying a faster version of 3G for y’all before the end of this year that should double those iPhone data speeds.

Related GigaOM Pro Content (sub req’d): How AT&T Will Deal With iPad Data Traffic

Image courtesy of Flickr user Eddie~S