CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charleston-area AT&T customers may have noticed the appearance of three new letters on their smartphones last week: LTE.
LTE, which stands for long-term evolution, is the latest form of commercial high-speed wireless communication network technologies. It offers download and mobile browsing speeds 10 times faster than older 3G networks.
About one-quarter of mobile phone users have LTE-capable phones, but access to the service has been limited across West Virginia.
Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless carrier by number of subscribers, already offers 4G LTE coverage in eight West Virginia cities, including Charleston, Huntington, Beckley and Morgantown.
But iPhone users, who have mostly purchased their phones through AT&T, did not see West Virginia LTE service until April, when it was launched in Morgantown. The company launched the service in Huntington the following month.
AT&T has not made any additional announcements regarding new West Virginia LTE service areas since the Huntington rollout, but customers last week began noticing their phones started picking up the service in the Charleston area.
After being asked about the new LTE connections, an AT&T spokeswoman confirmed the company was in the final stages of testing the service in the Kanawha Valley.
"AT&T is actively testing our 4G LTE network in Charleston, and customers with 4G LTE capable devices may be experiencing the service in those areas," spokeswoman Gayle Kansagor said.