Just in time for latest LTE iPads that Friday morning hit online and brick-and-mortar stores of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and Best Buy, the nation’s #1 carrier AT&T announced its 4G LTE is now available in 24 new markets in the United States. More importantly, the company claims to have doubled its LTE coverage in 2012 versus the end of 2011.

Specifically its LTE now covers more than 150 million people in a total of 103 markets. As part of its ambitious $14 billion LTE network expansion project, AT&T’s LTE will expand to 250 million people by year-end 2013 and to 300 million by year-end 2014…

AT&T’s media release paints its LTE coverage as better than those of rival Verizon.

AT&T 4G LTE is part of the nation’s largest 4G network, which covers more than 285 million people and 3,000 more 4G cities and towns than Verizon.

By the way, when it says “the nation’s largest 4G network”, AT&T really means both 3G HSPA+ and 4G LTE. Another jab at Verizon: AT&T’s customers can access 4G LTE speeds “outside of 4G LTE areas on the nation’s largest 4G network, unlike competitors, whose smartphone customers fall back to slower 3G technologies when outside of LTE coverage”.

As for Verizon, the company in August said its LTE network would soon cover two-thirds of the US population. The big red carrier is expected to complete the commercial deployment of LTE by mid-2013.

AT&T’s customers in Pensacola plus those in Saratoga and Saratoga Springs should start seeing 4G LTE in their area. Additionally, folks in Fairfield County will be delighted to know that the carrier expanded 4G LTE coverage in the area.

All told, 24 new markets getting AT&T’s LTE today are: Charleston, S.C., Columbia, S.C., Greenville, S.C., Columbus, Ohio, Toledo, Ohio, Corvallis, Ore., Eugene, Ore., El Paso, Texas, Jonesboro, Ark., Mobile, Ala., Pensacola, Fla., Portland, Maine, Saratoga Springs, N.Y,, South Bend-Mishawaka, Ind., Bridgeport, CT expansion (in Fairfield County/Danbury) and South Detroit expansion (in Monroe/Downriver)

Wednesday saw AT&T light up LTE in eight new cities: Milwaukee, WI; Denver, CO; Louisville, KY; Orlando, FL; York, PA; Tacoma, WA; Annapolis, MD; and Provo, UT.

And last week, AT&T’s 4G LTE became available to customers in Little Rock, Arkansas, with expanded LTE coverage claimed in Bakersfield, California and Florida Keys, Florida.

If all goes according to plan, AT&T will cover 99 percent of all locations in its 22-state wireline service area with 4G LTE, taking advantage of about 118Mhz of spectrum nationwide.

How’s AT&T’s LTE coverage in your area?