US operators AT&T and Verizon Wireless yesterday unveiled separate plans to enhance their LTE networks. Number two player AT&T reiterated its objective to launch LTE services in five US markets “this summer” – Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio – and extend it to at least 15 markets and to cover a potential population of 70 million Americans by the end of this year. It also added the ‘USBConnect Momentum 4G’ (pictured) modem and the ‘AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G’ to its LTE portfolio (which currently only includes a 3G data modem from LG that is software upgradable to LTE). Both new devices are from Sierra Wireless and will be available this summer, and also fall back onto AT&T’s HSPA+ network when out of reach of its new LTE coverage area.

Meanwhile the country’s largest operator, Verizon Wireless, marked the opening of its Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass., billed as a place where “companies large and small, entrepreneurs and others across the LTE ecosystem would come together to create the next generation of products that wirelessly connect people, places and things.” A sister Innovation Center on the West Coast is due to open later this summer in San Francisco, focused on application development for LTE technology. Verizon is ahead of AT&T in the LTE stakes, having commercial networks up and running already that plan to cover more than 185 million potential subscribers in 175 towns and cities by the end of the year.