Is AT&T’s LTE Network Getting Ready for a June NYC Debut?

AT&T (s t) is reportedly preparing to turn on its LTE 4G network on in New York City by the end of June, then flip the switch on Los Angeles less than a month later, according to a report at Intomobile. Citing a trusted source, the site said New York City could be turned on by the end of June at the earliest, with LTE service appearing in Los Angeles on July 24.

There isn’t much more to the report, so take it with a grain of salt. But it does line up with previous statements from AT&T, which said it would begin deploying LTE by mid-year, with plans on completing most of the network by by 2013.That it might be starting is somewhat interesting considering AT&T has said it needs T-Mobile’s spectrum in places like New York to improve its dropped call rate there.

Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s CEO, reiterated the need to gain T-Mobile’s spectrum earlier this week at a Senate hearing to keep up with consumer demand. But critics say AT&T has plenty of spectrum it isn’t using, including the 700 MHz spectrum AT&T will use to deploy LTE. Given that New York City is one of the markets where AT&T is spectrum constrained, the operator could also be anxious to start LTE service in New York City to help offload some traffic from its HSPA network. AT&T would likely launch the LTE network with hotspots and USB modems as opposed to a handset, which we might see several months later. But New York City could be a good place to start considering the high number of dropped calls there.

Whether it’s New York City or not, we know AT&T’s LTE network is coming. Now, we’ll have to see how AT&T explains the difference between LTE 4G and the 4G network it’s currently selling. And it’ll be interesting to find out how AT&T wants to price LTE. But at this point, I’d just like to see any LTE love from AT&T.