AT&T cranks up LTE in 35 new markets, accelerating its summer rollout plans

Three of the big four operators have plans for major expansions of their LTE networks this summer. Sprint(s s) is targeting 120 cities. T-Mobile(s tmus) has promised its infant network would cover 100 million people by mid-year. AT&T(s t) is committed to 78 new markets. While the first two have a long way to go, AT&T appears to be almost done.
Ma Bell announced on Tuesday that 35 new towns and small cities have received the 4G upgrade, placing its count right at 68. AT&T isn’t just making quick work of its list; it’s adding new markets to it. So when summer comes to a close, it will probably have far more new markets online than its planned 78. In fact, AT&T recently raised its year-end goal from 250 million to 270 million people covered, which puts it within spitting distance of completing its network.
Like Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) at this time last year, AT&T has completed its network in the big metro areas, and is now focusing on the smaller cities and town in between. Meanwhile Verizon last week closed the books on LTE network No. 1, announcing it now covers 95 percent of the U.S. population.
Here is the complete list of new LTE markets AT&T announced today:

Pine Bluff, Ark.; Searcy, Ark.; Chico-Oroville, Calif.; Grand Junction, Col.; Silverthorne, Col.; Homosassa Springs, Fla.; Palatka, Fla.; Milledgeville, Ga.; Valdosta, Ga.; Lafayette, La.; Morgan City, La.; New Iberia, La.; Cape Cod, Mass.; New Ulm, Minn.; Corinth-New Albany, Miss.; Greenwood-Cleveland, Miss.; Grenada, Miss.; Meridian, Miss.; Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Atlantic City-Toms River, N.J.; Batavia, N.Y.; Dunn, N.C.; Lawton, Okla.; Dillon, S.C.; Midland, Texas; Odessa, Texas; Sherman-Denison, Texas; Victoria, Texas; St. Croix, US Virgin Islands; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Bremerton, Wash.; Moses Lake, Wash.;Yakima, Wash.; Beckley, W.V.; and Oak Hill, W.V.

That brings its total to 326 markets. AT&T also expanded its existing LTE coverage in several key markets, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Atlanta.
Correction: An earlier version of this posted stated AT&T launched in 36 new markets in Tuesday. The official count is 35.