I know currently all of AT&T's 4G handsets operate on the HSPA+ network. Will they be able to operate on the LTE network slated to go online later this year early next or will customers' have to buy new devices?
They won't work on LTE. And I know there are mixed feelings on this. To be honest, right now I'm perfectly happy using hspa+, data price is the same on my unlimited plan, its far more then I need for a smartphone device, even if I was to tether. Now, saying all that, where LTE will benefit is in tethering, and lower latency.
When AT&T (and you can toss the other big boy on the block) they may hit you for extra fee's to use their wonderful capped service. I for one, right now, don't see the need for it, nor do I choose to pay extra for it. Also its going to be several years before it hits a good saturation level.
I have had 3 different ATT reps tell me the contrary. Two were in-store and one (which seemed more knowledgeable) over the phone with customer service. I asked specifically if the Inspire would be able to use/utilize the new LTE network when it became available and they all 3 said "YES, the Inspire and Atrix will both be able to support and use LTE when it is out, no upgrading or software changes required". Are all 3 of them idiots or are they simply lying to me to try and sell me a new phone right then???