AT&T officials said today that Raleigh and Charlotte will be among the company's first markets to get upgraded telecommunications service known as 4G.
AT&T customers in two North Carolina cities will get 4G service sometime later this year, said Alison Hall, AT&T's vice president and general manager for consumer markets in the Carolinas.
With competitors marketing 4G services for months now, AT&T is scrambling to meet its own customers' demand for quick downloading of gargantuan files and glitch-free video capability.
4G, a shorthand for fourth-generation technology, allows for wireless Internet speeds that are 5 to 10 times faster than speeds available today. Customers are increasingly demanding those levels of capability to download video, movies and other data to smartphones and other wireless devices.
"Raleigh's going to be on the forefront of that [technology] evolution," Hall said.
In terms of 4G deployment, AT&T has fallen behind competitors. Verizon Wireless introduced 4G service last December in Charlotte, with plans to expand to Raleigh this year.
As part of the upgrade, AT&T will offer 20 4G-enabled wireless devices, including a dozen Android models. Hall said that 4G service will not cost more than standard wireless service.
The term 4G is a loose description that refers to a range of wireless Internet speeds and has become more of a marketing designation than a technological classification. 4G is sometimes interchangeable with another term LTE, or Long Term Evolution, which represents the highest standard of wireless broadband.
However, AT&T will not be offering LTE for several more years, company officials have said.