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AT&T details 7.2Mbps 3G, backbone upgrades

updated 11:30 am EDT, Wed May 27, 2009

ATT Details 7 2Mbps 3G

AT&T today explained some of the key details behind a planned upgrade for its 3G network, including improvements to the infrastructure underneath. Having initially run a trial, the carrier now says it plans to start upgrading its network to 7.2Mbps HSPA this year and should have the faster service in place on all its connections by 2011. While actual speeds are likely to be lower, the peak is twice as fast as for the existing 3.6Mbps network.

The update is a prelude to 4G using the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard, which AT&T reiterated is on track to start testing in 2010 and to go live in 2011.

To support the extra data use, AT&T says it has been and will be upgrading the backhaul, or infrastructure capacity, to support the technology. It has already been adding more support for 850MHz 3G, whose lower frequency has longer range and works better indoors, but now says it has also been adding fiber optic networking and extra capacity to "thousands" of cellular access points to handle the extra load. About 2,100 new cell sites are also going up in existing areas.

AT&T doesn't name the devices it expects to take advantage of the faster 3G but says both add-on modems and smartphones should be available later this year.

The speed and capacity upgrades partly corroborate reports of an iPhone-inspired upgrade to AT&T's network, which may be strained by video uploads made possible through the next-generation iPhone. They also potentially address frequent complaints about an overburdened 3G network that, in key cities like New York and San Francisco, has resulted in frequent dropped calls and 3G data often being slow or simply unavailable.

Multiple rumors have floated that Apple will give the next iPhone a 7.2Mbps 3G chipset from Infineon that will automatically use the added speed when it exists on the local 3G network.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    AT&T was lucky to

    have this economic slowdown, otherwise people would have been buying iPhones like crazy in places like NY. It would have overburdened the network terribly. At least in this lull of spending for eight months or so, AT&T has some chance of catching up. I'm seeing an alarming rate of cell antennas/repeaters popping up on business and apartment roofs in my area. I wonder how safe those things are to be in such close proximity to humans.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    With their new backbone, will that be enough spine to try to push apple to let them sell iphones without a data plan?

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Yes, I'm sure that's how ATT was looking at the last year. In their corporate offices, going "Phew! Thank god for this recession. Sure its killed a ton of our business covering all areas, at least we limited our sales of iPhones so people couldn't complain too much about an overloaded data network!"

  1. jwdsail

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Not holding my breath. Still no 3G service anywhere near me, and it's not like I live in the boondocks. Since I bought my iPhone 3G, I've had 3G service once, while traveling.

  1. bp2k7

    Joined: Dec 1969


    glad they're upgrading

    I've lived in DC and Houston during the past year and have never had problems with AT&T's 3G service or coverage.

    However I've been spending a lot of time in Austin recently and the 3G coverage there is nothing short of pure c***. Let's hope that's on their radar as a city that will get upgrades.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: sigh

    Seems to me you should have bought a Gen 1 iphone and saved the $10 month on the data plan.

  1. iwantaiphone

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I can't WAIT, I still have to use an online version like but hopefully I will be able to get this new one for Christmas and those speeds look sweet!!!

  1. Jittery Jimmy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I laugh at Edge users that re disappointed in AT&T performance. Dude: EDGE is deprecated. AT&T is running 3G on 850 MHz. Most people will find that EDGE provides a lower-quality signal AND performance

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