AT&T says high-speed network is ahead of schedule

AT&T Inc. said it is ahead of schedule with expanding its higher-speed network, with the system now available in cities including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The network, using so-called long-term evolution, or LTE, technology, covers 74 million consumers, more than the 70 million the company had targeted, John Stankey, AT&T’s head of business solutions, said today at a Citigroup Inc. conference in San Francisco. It is available in 26 cities and the rollout will be largely completed by the end of 2013, he said.

AT&T trails larger rival Verizon Wireless, whose LTE network covers more than 200 million people. The carriers are seeking to increase speeds as consumers increasingly use mobile devices to browse the Web, watch video and stream music.

“LTE is going to be the biggest driver of market share in 2012,” said John Hodulik, an analyst at UBS AG, who has a “neutral” rating on AT&T shares.