The battle to have the widest and fastest 4G LTE network in the U.S. hasn't been a close one thus far, but AT&T and Sprint are ramping up their efforts to take on Verizon.
Verizon is currently sitting on the most comprehensive coverage, with some 287 million people in more than 490 markets currently capable of accessing the 4G network.
That said, even though Verizon has covered more than 95 percent of its existing 3G network with 4G, its speeds pale in comparison to AT&T, which has outpaced Verizon by a fairly significant margin in recent tests.
While Sprint has lagged behind its competitors in both reach and speed, the company is doing what it can to provide more markets with another option when it comes to LTE cellular support.
On Thursday, Sprint revealed it was opening 4G LTE coverage in 21 new markets, including Charlotte, N.C., Los Angeles, and Memphis, Tenn.
This is just the first phase of a plan to bring Sprint's coverage to 170 new areas over the course of the next few months, with cities like Portland, Ore., El Paso, Texas, and Tulsa, Okla., waiting in the wings.
As part of this rollout, Sprint is also offering customers who switch from another carrier before May 9 a $100 discount on an eligible new smartphone with a two-year contract.
Slow and steady
As Sprint has pushed harder this week to add more coverage, AT&T has been steadily building up its LTE network, with plans to expand into 80 new markets by the end of summer.
Several of those markets were opened up on Thursday, as Florence, S.C., Cushing, Okla., and Cheyenne, Wyo., became the latest cities to join AT&T's LTE coverage.
With this summer expansion, AT&T should be well on its way to reaching the 250 million 4G consumer goal it hoped to hit by the end of 2013.
It's not quite as impressive as Verizon's incredible compilation of customers, but it would certainly help AT&T cement its grasp on second place ahead of Sprint and sneaky darkhorse, T-Mobile.
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