Monday, January 4, 2010

AT&T Completes Expedited 7.2Mbps HSPA Upgrade Nationwide

AT&T completed an expedited software upgrade of its 3G cell sites nationwide to support High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 technology. AT&T is upgrading these cell sites with enhanced backhaul connections over the course of 2010 and 2011, primarily with fiber connections. The combination of HSPA 7.2 technology and enhanced backhaul will support theoretical peak maximum speeds of 7.2 Mbps, though as with any mobile broadband network, actual speeds will be lower than the theoretical maximum and will vary due to a number of factors.

In addition to the HSPA 7.2 software, initial deployment of backhaul is already underway in the six U.S. cities announced in 2009 as initial HSPA 7.2 markets -- Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami, with capabilities being turned up on a site-by-site basis beginning last month. Further backhaul deployment will continue in these markets and begin in additional markets across the nation.

AT&T anticipates that the majority of its mobile data traffic will be carried over the expanded fiber-based, HSPA 7.2-capable backhaul by the end of this year, with deployment continuing to expand in 2011. AT&T currently offers a total of 10 HSPA 7.2-compatible devices today, including the iPhone 3G S. Additional HSPA 7.2-compatible devices will be introduced in 2010. The backhaul upgrades are also a key step in the evolution to LTE. AT&T plans to launch an LTE trial this year, with first commercial deployments in 2011.

"As we light up new backhaul connections across the country, we're able to deliver a meaningful 3G speed boost for millions of customers who are already using HSPA 7.2-compatible devices. At the same time, we're also looking to the future with these backhaul enhancements, which will support our move to next-generation LTE technology starting in 2011," said John Stankey, president and CEO, AT&T Operations, who announced the network updates at the Citigroup 20th Annual Global Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference.

Stankey noted that these wireless initiatives have already yielded a number gains. With the 7.2 release, the peak data throughputs improve by 50%. Metrics for dropped calls and blocked calls have also improved significantly.

Stankey also cited progress with Uverse, including a number of upcoming software enhancements that will enable multi-camera viewing in sporting events, local ad-insertion and on-screen caller ID.

AT&T also plans to expand its efforts in open application development. This includes a new collaboration with Microsoft to develop the APIs needed to enable applications across wireless/wireline networks, devices and operating systems.

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