Sluggish AT&T might roll out 4G network next year

AT&T’s next-generation mobile network won’t be up and running until about a year from now, making it the slowest of the major carriers to do so.

Verizon and T-Mobile both plan to get their respective 4G networks ready for prime time by early 2011. Sprint already has its high-speed network in place and was the first in the nation to launch a 4G phone.

“4G” is the term used to describe the next generation of mobile networks. With the latest technology, users can download files through their phone at speeds of up to 10 times what they’re used to with today’s current, 3G technology.

Verizon is behind Sprint in terms of being the most active. Its network, using a standard called LTE (Long Term Evolution), is getting close to deployment. T-Mobile also has plans to get its HSPA+ network in full swing very soon. It already has the necessary equipment set up around the country to be capable of reaching 100 million people.

But AT&T has remained in the dust. has reported the first suggested timeline for the carrier, saying its 4G offering would be available in mid-2011.

So in the next several months, AT&T will presumably lose iPhone exclusivity, will still be ranked at the low end of the mobile industry, and won’t have any 4G tech offerings. It’s gonna be a rough year.