After announcing a new $14 billion investment in expanding its wired and wireless networks over the next three years earlier this month, AT&T now finds itself ahead of the game.

On Friday, AT&T reported its 4G LTE network now reaches 150 million customers, which is more than double the number Ma Bell had at the end of 2011.

The carrier is still planning on more expansion by the end of 2012, which should put AT&T well ahead of the pace it set for Project Velocity IP.

Now available in 103 different markets, AT&T's 4G LTE coverage continues its rapid expansion in the wake of LTE-compatible smartphone releases like the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Nokia Lumia 920.

Aggressive growth

AT&T hoped to extend its LTE coverage to 250 million customers by the end of 2013, and 300 million by the end of 2014, but with the exponential growth the smartphone market has seen, the carrier may well reach those numbers with time to spare.

Already responsible for the largest 4G network in the U.S., AT&T is seemingly doing everything it can to stave off competition from competitors such as Verizon, which has also been busy expanding its 4G LTE coverage.

There are still a few weeks left in 2012 - the crucial holiday season - which could give AT&T an even bigger boost by the time the calendar turns over.

The race for the most comprehensive 4G LTE coverage in the U.S. will undoubtedly heat up in the coming months, and it'll be interesting to watch the carriers battle for customers searching for the fastest, morst quality wireless connection well into 2013.