Wednesday, September 11, 2013

AT&T: Preparing for LTE-Advanced

With LTE now the preferred radio technology in the majority of handsets it sells, AT&T is preparing its network for LTE-Advanced, said John Donovan, AT&T's Senior Executive Vice President of Technology & Network Operations, speaking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2013 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference.  This means implementation for carrier aggregation for the company's 700 and 850 MHz spectrum, leveraging self-optimizing network (SON) capabilities, and enabling higher order MIMO at the towers and handsets.   Donovan said AT&T's goal is to extend the lead it has established at the fastest and most reliable network in the country. A specific timeline for the activation of LTE-Advanced was not given. LTE-Advanced smartphones will also be required.

Currently, AT&T has LTE coverage in 397 markets covering 240 million POPs across the U.S. Donovan said the network is performing at a high level thanks to its distributed core architecture, use of remote radio heads, and extensive implementation of Ethernet/Fiber backhaul. Approximately 90% of traffic currently flows over the Ethernet/Fiber backhaul.

Project VIP, which was launched a year ago, is on track, said Donovan, with 45 Mbps wireline broadband service now available in 17 states.  The fiber footprint expansion to SMBs is also on plan.  This new architecture is more CAPEX and OPEX efficient, which should deliver long term gains for the company.  Donovan also discussed how LTE could make sense as a fixed broadband service in areas where spectrum is available.  AT&T is looking at external antennas that could be mounted on the side of a home.  This would be a local play in areas where upgrading the copper network is not economically viable.

The presentation is archived online.