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With Elevate Hotspot, AT&T Gets Over 4G Disgrace

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Look who's finally come clean as an LTE wireless contender. AT&T (T - Get Report) and its Elevate 4G mobile hotspot ($70 with two-year plan at $50 per month for 5 GB, $10 per GB after that).

If there is a lifetime achievement award for business bait and switch, it has to go to AT&T, and its maybe -- or maybe not -- faster 4G wireless network. Remember the stupidity? After what, more than a year of hype, the old Ma Bell had the gall to deploy a "4G" network that in my -- and in many other -- tests turned out to be slower than its original 3G network. Yep, it really happened.
AT&T's Elevate 4G wireless hotspot can deliver first-rate mobile Web access -- where there's coverage.

Well, it seems AT&T has finally put its sad networking past behind it. The wireless giant has begun rolling out a legit Long Term Evolution, or LTE, fast wireless network similar to what carriers such as Verizon (VZ) offer. AT&T says LTE is ready in 28 markets, with more coming online this year.

To get a feel for what businesses can expect from an LTE AT&T, I arranged for a demo of its hottest new modem, the Elevate 4G wireless hotspot from Sierra Wireless (SWIR - Get Report). The Elevate followed me on one my patented go-everywhere business trips. This time it was New York to San Francisco to Seattle to Spokane, Wash., and back to New York and back out Indianapolis. I also carried a Verizon LTE and Clear (CLWR) 4G hotspot for comparison.

Verizon 4G Device Has 3G Problem

Here's what I learned:

1. On LTE, AT&T gets things done.
The immediate take away is AT&T is taking speed, reliability and business features way seriously with this 4G offering. When there is coverage -- which is still very much an issue -- the Elevate 4G delivered first-rate mobile business Web access. I will spare you the geekish, but essentially: You get traditional, wired Internet connectivity on the go, service in line with what other carriers such as Verizon has delivered to me in the past. In fact I am doing this column with it now. It's all good.
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