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AT&T Slams Verizon for Jumping the Gun on 4G

On the Eve of this week’s CTIA wireless conference in Las Vegas, the topic of 4G wireless has gotten carriers on edge. On Sunday, an AT&T executive stressed the current immaturity of 4G technology while criticizing Verizon’s plan to fire up 4G LTE service by the end of this year.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, AT&T CTO John Donovan claimed that the current state of 4G chips would throw a wet blanket over the first handsets. “Right out of the chute, it’s going to be difficult to engineer,” Donovan said. “It’s going to drain the battery like crazy, and it’s going to be a fat brick.”

Although AT&T has expressed its own plans to begin deploying 4G in 2011, Donovan doesn’t see 4G reaching its stride until the following year. “2012 will be the time when you’ll have decent handsets, decent quantity of handsets, and decent choice of handsets,” he told the Journal.

Donovan’s comments also cast some skepticism on Sprint, which is moving toward 4G at an even faster pace than Verizon, although using WiMax technology rather than LTE. The carrier already offers 4G service in over 20 markets, and is widely expected to announce its first 4G handset at this year’s CTIA conference.