Officials from telecommunications giant AT&T were in Leavenworth Tuesday celebrating the addition of Leavenworth County to the company's 4G Long Term Evolution network.
Chris Carroll, regional director of external and legislative affairs for AT&T, said the new service went live some time last week, the latest stage of a planned statewide rollout of the high-speed mobile broadband service.
“We're moving and expanding that faster mobile broadband network across the state,” he said. “This community is one of the first to benefit from that.”
The network is the next step up from the previous 3G network, with the LTE technology specifically offering less impedance to data flow and a more efficient use of the available wireless spectrum. Anticipating questions, Steve Hahn, the president of AT&T in Kansas, explained what 4G LTE means for the average user.
“What it means is speed,” he said. “It means our customers are connecting to whatever it is they want ― whether that's a voice call, a video, a social media site, an important business application ― faster, more efficiently.”
Up to 10 times faster, Carroll said. That speed holds the potential to fuel further economic development for the area, according to Republican Kansas Sen. Steve Fitzgerald.
“Leavenworth and Lansing, feels like we're now part of something instead of being left out,” he said.
The addition of the 4G LTE network for AT&T began in the area almost two years ago, when the company turned on the service in November 2011 for Kansas City. Carroll said the company has so far extended that service to Lawrence, Wichita and, as of Tuesday, the Leavenworth and Atchison areas. The service was next due to launch in Topeka and Manhattan. The rollout for Kansas is expected to be complete by the end of 2014.
Hahn said extending the new service meant a considerable investment in infrastructure and operations for the area ― $725 million over four years. But, with a nod to the growing mobile market, he said there has never been a better time.
“It's because of how competitive this market is,” Hahn said. “If we don't do it, our competitors will and there's an important multiplier effect that's going to benefit consumers, it's going to benefit Kansans... the only thing better than LTE from a provider is LTE from three different providers.”
Carroll and Hahn both thanked elected officials at the state and local levels in paving the way for the network expansion. Carroll said in the last year, the state has continued to pass legislation making such improvements easier for the company. He pointed to HB 2201, which stripped landline regulations from former monopoly carriers like AT&T. That allowed the company to shift some of its investment to areas like the 4G LTE and other new networks and away from the traditional copper telephone landlines, the market share of which continue to decline. The other piece of legislation that Carroll pointed to was HB 2236, which he said prevents the Kansas Corporation Commission from regulating in the future next-generation technologies like the 4G LTE network unveiled Tuesday.
Page 2 of 2 - “It provides what I like to call regulatory certainty,” he said.