AT&T Announces 4G LTE Devices, but No Network Yet

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AT&T is still working to get its 4G LTE network online, but has gone ahead and announced its first two LTE devices anyway.

AT&T’s LTE network will launch this summer with a USB stick called the Momentum 4G and a portable Wi-Fi hotspot called the Elevate 4G. The USB stick will cost $50 with a two-year contract and the mobile hotspot, which has a 1.7-inch screen that displays remaining data and battery life, will cost $70 on-contract.

The first cities to get LTE from AT&T will be Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, followed by 15 additional markets by year-end.

(MORE: AT&T Defends T-Mobile Merger: It’s a Good Thing, Really!)

Although AT&T has been selling devices labeled as “4G” for months, those products are actually running on HSPA+, a souped-up version of existing 3G networks. LTE, short for “Long Term Evolution,” is a new standard that’s much faster than the 4G that AT&T currently touts.

As CNet notes, AT&T has said that its LTE is theoretically three times faster than its current 4G network, and 10 times faster than 3G, but real-world speeds are still undisclosed.

So why is AT&T announcing these LTE products now? Officially, because the company is holding an annual showcase today, but ostensibly because rival Verizon Wireless has been selling LTE devices since last winter, and now has its network running in 77 U.S. markets. As you might expect, Verizon has poked fun at AT&T’s 4G sluggishness in advertisements. AT&T must be feeling the pressure, and has in fact accelerated its 4G plans to catch up.

Still, AT&T has some blanks to fill in. The company hasn’t announced data pricing or other usage details for LTE, nor has it announced any LTE smartphones. AT&T’s two mobile broadband products are just a hint of what’s to come.

MORE: Verizon 4G: Fast But Expensive