AT&T plans on upgrading its 3G network to HSPA 7.2 over the next couple of years, which means users will be able to theoretically see peak speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. In the real world speeds will be much lower than that, but this is fantastic news for AT&T subscribers.
AT&T said that it is enhancing its mobile broadband coverage by allocating more wireless spectrum to 3G in most metropolitan areas. Hopefully, this translates into reliable 3G access in far flung locations such as San Francisco and New York.
During a presentation at a tech conference, AT&T’s CEO said U.S. wireless networks aren’t prepared for the surge in data use. He also said that AT&T plans on selling the Palm Pre once Sprint’s exclusivity deal expires.
The company also has several initiatives to improve accessibility for its customers:
* Near-Doubling Radio Frequency Capacity. In 2008 and 2009 to date, high-quality 850 MHz spectrum has been deployed in more than half of AT&T’s 3G network footprint to improve overall coverage and in-building reception, with additional markets planned for later in the year.
* More Bandwidth to Cell Sites. We are adding fiber-optic connectivity and additional capacity to thousands of cell sites across the country this year, expanding the critical connections that deliver traffic from a cell site into the global IP backbone network. These upgrades will support the higher mobile broadband speeds enabled by both HSPA 7.2 and LTE.
* More Cell Sites. Deployment of about 2,100 new cell sites across the country.
* Wi-Fi Integration. Many AT&T smartphones will be able to switch seamlessly between 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. AT&T customers with qualifying smartphone and 3G LaptopConnect plans have access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network Ã¢â‚¬” more than 20,000 hotspots, including locations in all 50 states Ã¢â‚¬” at no additional charge. AT&T’s global Wi-Fi footprint covers more than 90,000 hotspots, and AT&T also can create permanent or temporary extended Wi-Fi zones in areas with high 3G network use, like a grouping of hotels or a festival.
* MicroCells. Customer trials leading toward general availability of AT&T 3G MicroCell offerings, which utilize femtocells to enhance in-building wireless coverage.
Now if only AT&T get get rid of that nasty 5GB data cap…
You can read the full AT&T press release about the network upgrades here.