updated 04:45 pm EDT, Thu April 17, 2008
ATT Prepping 3G for iPhone
AT&T is hastening the development of its 3G network in some areas to get ready for the iPhone's launch, according to e-mail sent to CNET's Buzz Out Loud podcast. A Pittsburgh show listener claims that AT&T is "ramping up" its 3G network in the area to ensure that the faster wireless service is ready for the iPhone by May. The audience member implies that the iPhone launch itself will take place in the timeframe, though such a launch would contradict analyst estimates and other predictions that have called for an Apple handset with faster access to appear by June.
While yet to be verified, the rumor is noteworthy for parallels to AT&T's practices for the original iPhone debut in 2007. A concerted effort known as Operation Fine Edge is now known to have been launched that saw the cellular provider upgrade the baseline quality and reach of its slower, EDGE-based data network just ahead of the June 29th release last year. Improvements to 3G would likely have similar objectives of ensuring the network can handle an influx of new users as well as eliminating weak spots in existing coverage.
AT&T has also publicly promised a major expansion of 3G service nationwide this year, though the company has never issued a more specific timetable or connected the launch to specific devices. However, AT&T chief Ralph de la Vega earlier this month appeared to be aware of more exact timing in a statement that all smart devices will be 3G-capable within the next few months. The company has since denied implications behind the statement but has not explained de la Vega's choice of words.
(Note: the mention comes shortly ahead of the 8:30 mark)