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AT&T says will complete wireless network upgrade by end 2013

(Reuters) - AT&T Inc is on track to finish its wireless network upgrade with faster mobile Web services by the end of 2013, having exceeded its target for 2011, a top executive said.

By the end of last year the company had extended its new high-speed service to markets of 74 million people, surpassing its previous target of 70 million, John Stankey, AT&T's head of business solutions, said at a conference on Thursday.

Cities such as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles now have access to the "blazing fast" network, he said.

The No. 2 U.S. mobile operator has been lagging Verizon Wireless in offering services based on a technology known as Long Term Evolution, which the larger rival has been offering since late 2000.

AT&T had hoped to bring new services more quickly to customers with its plans to buy Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA for $39 billion but the deal fell apart at the close of 2011 due to fierce regulatory opposition.

The deal would have allowed AT&T to vault to the top position in the U.S. mobile market, leapfrogging market leader Verizon Wireless - a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc

"It's unfortunate we didn't get it done," Stankey said.

"Now we have to go back to run a different set of plays," he said, adding that the company would continue to evaluate spectrum markets.

(Reporting By Nicola Leske; editing by Mark Porter)

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