AT&T said today it is turning on its LTE service in a dozen new markets "soon" as it works to catch up with larger rival Verizon Wireless, whose LTE network already covers large portions of the country. 

The latest round of launches includes top markets Staten Island in New York City, St. Louis, Cleveland and New Orleans. Other markets include Baton Rouge, La.; Akron and Canton, Ohio; Naples, Fla.; Bloomington, Lafayette and Muncie, Ind.; and Bryan-College Station, Texas.  

AT&T said last month its LTE network was live in 28 markets. Combined with the most recent expansions, the network will shortly be available in more than 40 markets. 

AT&T's LTE rollout got underway last September. Verizon, which first lit up its LTE network in December 2010, currently offers the service in 196 markets covering 200 million people.  

Sprint, T-Mobile USA and Clearwire also are working on their own LTE networks, as are U.S. Cellular and Leap Wireless International. MetroPCS already has deployed LTE across its 14-city footprint.

AT&T plans to have its LTE network "largely complete" by the end of 2013. It markets both its LTE and HSPA+ networks as "4G" and says the combined technologies cover nearly 250 million people. 

AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile all claim they operate the country's "largest 4G network." Each operator defines 4G differently in its marketing materials.