After several months of talking about it, AT&T finally seems ready to put up or shut up. On Sunday, the carrier plans on lighting up its new 4G LTE service in 5 major U.S. cities. The news does come with several asterisks though.

One, it’s about a year late to the party. Verizon’s had a live LTE network since last December. Two, the launch is tiny compared to Verizon’s 39-city rollout. And three, there’s not even a compatible smartphone available (yet)…

Nevertheless, AT&T’s Chief Financial Officer told investors at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference yesterday that its LTE network is ready for action. The carrier will initially activate service in 5 markets, hoping to hit 15 by the end of the year.

The 5 cities include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. BGR has seen speeds of up to 22Mbps per second on the new network, but the numbers don’t reflect real world settings with millions of users fighting for bandwidth.

Of course, the question on our minds is whether or not Apple’s upcoming iPhone will be LTE-capable. I’ve got a bad feeling it’s not going to be, but Apple could surprise us. AT&T has said that they hope to have a 4G smartphone by year’s end.

What’s your take on AT&T’s rollout? Too little too late?

[FierceWireless]