The cruelest, truest moment in iPhone: The Music Video is when New York Times gadget guru David Pogue sings, “So what if it’s AT&T?” A bit of audio doctoring mangled Pogue’s “AT&T” in sputtering mimicry of a bad connection. My own AT&T iPhone fails to connect in many areas where my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry never hiccups.
AT&T needs to change that reputation. That’s one reason the company has pre-announced its rollout of a faster wireless network that most customers won’t have until 2011.
Skip the industry jargon in AT&T’s press release to get to the payoff:
The upgraded network platform could allow for theoretical peak speeds of 7.2Mbps.
The company has committed at least $17 billion in capital expenditures this year to pay for the upgrades. Strip away the legalese and PR-speak from the announcement, and you find the jargony details on AT&T’s specific plans to make Pogue finally happy:
- 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 – more than 20,000 hotspots, including locations in all 50 states – 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.