So far this year, Puerto Rican cellcos have invested USD600 million in rolling out advanced mobile data networks including 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) platforms, according to Next Wireless LatAm, quoting local newspaper El Nuevo Dia. By early 2012 three mobile operators, US-owned AT&T, Mexican-backed Claro and smaller rival Open Mobile are planning to launch commercial LTE services on the island, whilst Sprint’s 4G rollout in the US is expected to encompass Puerto Rico later that year. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database shows that Claro Puerto Rico should launch LTE by the first quarter of 2012, as it must cover 35% of the population within four years of the March 2008 award of its 700MHz licence which it is using for LTE, while AT&T acquired similar spectrum for 4G services in October 2007. Open Mobile and Sprint’s existing services on the island are based on CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev A technology.
Jose Juan Davila, AT&T general manager in Puerto Rico, confirmed to El Nuevo that AT&T is lining up 4G-enabled devices including the USB Connect Momentum 4G modem and the HTC JetStream tablet computer, whilst its high speed mobile data coverage is also being expanded under a project to build out its HSPA+ network to 90% of the island’s population by the end of 2011; rival Claro already reached a 90% HSPA+ footprint as of August 2011. AT&T is also in the process of taking over T-Mobile USA (including Puerto Rico), adding to its HSPA+ coverage (according to GlobalComms, T-Mobile Puerto Rico launched 42Mbps DC-HSPA+ in San Juan, Ponce and Mayaguez in May 2011).