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AT&T turns on 4G service for Bellingham, Ferndale, Blaine

AT&T said Wednesday, Sept. 25 that its 4G LTE mobile broadband service was turned on in Bellingham, Ferndale, Custer, Blaine, and Birch Bay.

That's good news if you live in those areas and like to stream videos on services like Netflix, play online games or make two-way video calls. According to this March 2013 report, AT&T's LTE service is the fastest in the U.S.

"At 18.6 Mbps, AT&T easily offered the fastest pure LTE download speed of any carrier, outpacing Verizon’s mark of 14.3 Mbps for LTE-only download. AT&T also offered outstanding speed in our LTE-only upload testing, recording an average of 9.0 Mbps," the ROOT Metrics report said.

The biggest catch until now is that Verizon Wireless offered more coverage - which you already know if you've seen those television commercial's touting Verizon's coverage maps. Verizon launched 4G LTE in Bellingham in August 2012 and has since added service to Alger, Birch Bay, Deming, Everson, Ferndale, Laurel and Nooksack, plus dozens of communities in Skagit and Snohomish County to the south.

AT&T's 4G coverage, by contrast, is not available in Lynden, Everson or Sumas in eastern Whatcom County. When asked when those regions might be available, an AT&T spokesman said "investor relations guidelines require us to keep that information confidential until a market is ready to launch."

According to AT&T's press release announcing the switch, LTE technology is capable of delivering mobile Internet speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G and offers lower latency, or the processing time it takes to move data through a network, such as how long it takes to start downloading a webpage or file once you've sent the request.

 For a map of coverage in Bellingham and throughout the state of Washington, check this  map on AT&T's website and type "Bellingham, WA" into the search box.

In the first half of 2013. In the first half of 2013, AT&T invested nearly $250 million in its wireless and wired network in Washington.