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AT&T upgrades network as wireless traffic quadruples over past year

post #1 of 88
Thread Starter 
AT&T has invested nearly $65 million into 3G network upgrades in the San Francisco Bay area in response to massive growth in total data traffic over the past year.

AT&T has announced this deployment is "one part of its ongoing initiatives to enhance the speed and performance of its network." AT&T also recently announced plans to upgrade its 3G nationwide network with HSPA 7.2 technology which promises faster mobile broadband speed. These upgrades are expected to be completed in 2011. A total of 1,900 cell sites are to be added by the end of this year.

The San Francisco Area in particular has seen a massive increase in 3G traffic. AT&T estimates the growth in data traffic to be close to 2000 percent since 2008. Overall United States network traffic has quadrupled in the past year.

AT&T attributes this tremendous growth in traffic to "more and more people upgrading to smartphones and integrated devices with full QWERTY keyboards."

This announcement comes on the heels of AT&T's highly publicized court battle over Verizon's depiction of AT&T's 3G network in its most recent series of commercials. AT&T claims that the coverage maps that Verizon displays in said ads mislead consumers into thinking that areas devoid of AT&T 3G coverage offer no coverage at all.

Monday, Verizon responded to the suit, saying "AT&T failed to invest adequately in the necessary infrastructure to expand its 3G coverage to support its growth in smartphone business and the usefulness of its service to smarthphone users has suffered accordingly."
post #2 of 88
7.2 HSDPA by 2011? Verizon will have had an LTE network for a year by then. Way to be behind the times AT&T. =/
post #3 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

7.2 HSDPA by 2011? Verizon will have had an LTE network for a year by then. Way to be behind the times AT&T. =/

The PR release reads as AT&Ts 3G coverage areas will all be upgraded to 7.2Mbps. They have already had .2Mbps in certain areas for awhile now. I cant imagine Verizon adding LTE over their entire data coverage area by 2011 when Verizon is still in early testing stages with LTE towers. Then well get some public trials and USB 4G LTE cards for notebooks and eventually well get more coverage and phones with LTE chips in them. I dont see how you can think Verizon can have that all built today.
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post #4 of 88
So how does this relate to actually expanding coverage? Who care if there are a few sites with 7.2mbps when the vast majority of the country has no 3G coverage at all? They throw out big numbers like 1900 cell towers, but what percentage of existing cell towers is that? Does that just mean they're upgrading their 3G towers by 2011 or converting EDGE towers to 3G?
post #5 of 88
3G speed doesn't bother me too much. I just want fewer dropped calls.
post #6 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by dm3 View Post

So how does this relate to actually expanding coverage? Who care if there are a few sites with 7.2mbps when the vast majority of the country has no 3G coverage at all?

The PR piece from AT&T was focused on the SF area completing the major 850MHz transfer. That is a big deal and warrants some media to let people know. Though we still need to get some people in the SF area to weigh in this. Numbers by themselves dont really work as hard facts here.

Quote:
Does that just mean they're upgrading their 3G towers by 2011 or converting EDGE towers to 3G?

Theyll be doing both, but they really should focus on getting the more populated areas as these affect more people at a time. If Im on the highway and you drop to EDGE for a 20 mile stretch, big deal, but if your in the city and I drop a call because the tower cant the load, that is a big deal, and just for you at that moment.
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post #7 of 88
Too little too late. AT&T sat on their asses while Verizon got their shit together.

Verizon is already deploying 4G and AT&T is just getting around to giving us MMS and upgrading 3G. Whatever. Bye.
post #8 of 88
Fix NYC, AT&T. I'm in downtown Manhattan and I get my calls dropped consistently and I'm just not able to get online (despite "showing" full bars with 3G) at all? Really?

Abso-fcuking-ridiculous.

When, not if, but when, the iPhone becomes available on another carrier, I will switch. And many others will as well, mark my words.
post #9 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Too little too late. AT&T sat on their asses while Verizon got their shit together.

That isn’t true. AT&T been investing billions per year to upgrade their network. Could they have started earlier, before the iPhone or had done future forward upgrades with 850MHz earlier? The first part yes, the second part depends on when they got the FCC okay. It’s a bit of a Catch 22. Without the iPhone they would not have been investing nearly as much but the iPhone is using so much data that the upgrades go un-noticed and the network can potentially look worse if towers get overloaded.

Quote:
Verizon is already deploying 4G and AT&T is just getting around to giving us MMS and upgrading 3G. Whatever. Bye.

Of course they are upgrading their ‘3G'. It has a maximum current top-end of 84.4Mbps down and 42Mbps up while using a well known air mobile technology that is well supported throughout the world. Verizon has to move to a ‘4G’ because their ‘3G’ is a technological dead end. Sprint has already moved to a ‘4G’ network called WiMAX which was a bad choice all around and will surely bite them in the ass in the coming years. Don’t expect Verizon to have current EVDO level coverage for 5 years and don’t expect LTE to beat HSPA in throughput or power efficiency for sometime. New tech always has issues.
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post #10 of 88
so had to ask my friends about the bay area...

Is this cutover complete.. or still planned?


because apparently, it hasn't improved a thing in SF proper. Is there a way to confirm on the phone if you are on 850 or 1900 MHz?
post #11 of 88
Is this article trying to point out that SF got an upgrade? AT&T has already upgraded Dallas / Fort Worth and sent the following communication out on Nov. 10. I guess the Cali folks thought they were special...

Quote:
Weve got great news for Dallas/Ft. Worth! Weve nearly doubled your AT&T 3G wireless networks capacity with a recent network upgrade! Our new upgrade improves your wireless experience by adding a higher quality wireless spectrum to our existing network.

What can you expect from this network upgrade?

Better 3G connectivity and performance
Improved in-building coverage
Upgraded wireless experience

With these upgrades, you should have a better wireless experience with more capacity on our network and improved coverage inside your home and other buildings throughout the DFW area. Look for improved coverage in area communities like Allen, Arlington, Carrollton, Colleyville, Dallas, Denton, Ft. Worth, Frisco, Garland, Grapevine, Grand Prairie, Irving, Keller, Mesquite, McKinney, Lewisville, Plano, Richardson, Rockwall, Southlake and more. We updated nearly 1,000 cell sites in these areas!

The fastest gets faster!

AT&T has the fastest network in Dallas/Ft. Worth* and were excited to announce that Dallas will be among the first 6 major U.S. cities in which AT&T plans to upgrade its existing 3G technology to HSPA 7.2.** This new upgrade will provide considerably faster mobile broadband speeds, and we plan to make it available by the end of the year.

We hope that youre as excited as we are about our network improvements and we thank you for choosing AT&T. Youve made the right choice!

Sincerely,

Adam Vital, Vice President/General Manager, AT&T North Texas
post #12 of 88
It's about time! For the nearly year and a half I've had my 3G, I've had to turn off 3G mode to make phone calls without the call getting dropped. Every few months I'll turn it back on, then quickly revert. Only recently has 3G actually been reliable.
post #13 of 88
I live down in Palo Alto (very close to Steve Jobs), about 25 miles south of San Francisco. I travel to San Francisco often, and past San Francisco to Marin by car, and also boat around San Francisco.

The biggest issue in San Francisco had been the frequency. Switching over to 850Mhz is a HUGE deal that's really going to change people's perception of AT&T, especially people who had no clue that the problem had more to do with the frequency and resulting blockage than anything else.

I noticed speed improvements last summer. I was out on my boat and got wicked fast speeds. It was pretty cool when I needed to tether or Skype and how reliable it was out there.

What's happening here is that AT&T is making numerous improvements all at once:
1) Backhaul - the lines to the cell towers. They've always been upgrading those, and it's not really the problem people think it is. This is why the number of new users really isn't an issue, other than there are more squeaky wheels.
2) Switching to 850MHz - Huge improvement when it comes to areas like San Francisco with building, hills and other things that can block the signal. This is a little more involved than upgrading the backhaul.
3) Upgrading to 7.2 - Big improvement in speed, but really when you have a good connection, most people are fine with the speed.
4) More cell towers - This is the hard part. There are all kinds of license, zoning and other costs associate with the towers. Even switching an existing tower over can be a legal/political quagmire.
post #14 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shookster View Post

3G speed doesn't bother me too much. I just want fewer dropped calls.

That would be a nice feature to have on a smartphone.
post #15 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Could they have started earlier, before the iPhone or had done future forward upgrades with 850MHz earlier? The first part yes, the second part depends on when they got the FCC okay.

AT&T does not need FCC approval for the 850MHz 3G upgrades. The 850MHz frequencies they are upgrading are already owned and in use by AT&T. They are just converting these towers from EDGE to 3G.
post #16 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRR View Post

so had to ask my friends about the bay area...

Is this cutover complete.. or still planned?


because apparently, it hasn't improved a thing in SF proper. Is there a way to confirm on the phone if you are on 850 or 1900 MHz?

Unless you're an RF engineer, probably not. If the service is fast enough where you don't complain, what's the difference?

Coverage in the SFBA and the Monterey Bay Area is excellent as far as I'm concerned and I get around a lot. I get great coverage in dense areas of the Silicon Valley, great coverage in the mountains and great coverage in SF proper. The only real area where I've had a problem since 1989 would be Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Pacifica, which is basically rural. It may have improved some, but in order for any carrier to improve their signal along the coast, they would have to undergo some heavy duty zoning and permit restrictions, mostly from the CA Coastal Commission. It can take years and years and years to get one cell site. It really is no mystery why the signal there sucks.
post #17 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski1 View Post

AT&T does not need FCC approval for the 850MHz 3G upgrades. The 850MHz frequencies they are upgrading are already owned and in use by AT&T. They are just converting these towers from EDGE to 3G.

I understand that the UMTS and GSM frequency bands for 850MHz range are the same and already in use by AT&T, but I am under the impression that they you can’t just change the usage type and air-interface without prior approval.



PS: Nice post Macslut.
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post #18 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by macslut View Post

I live down in Palo Alto (very close to Steve Jobs), about 25 miles south of San Francisco. I travel to San Francisco often, and past San Francisco to Marin by car, and also boat around San Francisco.

The biggest issue in San Francisco had been the frequency. Switching over to 850Mhz is a HUGE deal that's really going to change people's perception of AT&T, especially people who had no clue that the problem had more to do with the frequency and resulting blockage than anything else.

I noticed speed improvements last summer. I was out on my boat and got wicked fast speeds. It was pretty cool when I needed to tether or Skype and how reliable it was out there.

What's happening here is that AT&T is making numerous improvements all at once:
1) Backhaul - the lines to the cell towers. They've always been upgrading those, and it's not really the problem people think it is. This is why the number of new users really isn't an issue, other than there are more squeaky wheels.
2) Switching to 850MHz - Huge improvement when it comes to areas like San Francisco with building, hills and other things that can block the signal. This is a little more involved than upgrading the backhaul.
3) Upgrading to 7.2 - Big improvement in speed, but really when you have a good connection, most people are fine with the speed.
4) More cell towers - This is the hard part. There are all kinds of license, zoning and other costs associate with the towers. Even switching an existing tower over can be a legal/political quagmire.

You sound as though you work in the industry, as do I. Yes, the main problem with any carrier opening new areas to coverage is the political/legal quagmire as you say. Cities and counties just don't want cell sites in their backyards. They are very NIMBY. But they want the coverage, and then you have private citizens that fearmonger against cancer, birth defects, etc. It's tough going to get a cell site permitted.

I roll my eyes when I hear the ignorant fools here just say, "Damn AT&T! Fix it!". They don't know the half of what it takes.
post #19 of 88
While its true Verizon did a better job at rolling out its 3G network across the nation, the 3G to 4G transition isn't as rosy a picture as you paint.

LTE is designed to be backward compatible with HSPA, the network technology that most of the world uses, the same that AT&T uses. Verizon will be transitioning CDMA/EV-DO to LTE. The transition won/t be that smooth as Verizon will have to support both its older slower EV-DO network and trying to grow its brand new LTE network. That will take time it won't happen quickly.

AT&T is free to evolve much more gradually. This year AT&T is developing its 7.2Mbps HDPA, next year it will begin its 14Mbps, the following year begin its LTE deployment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Too little too late. AT&T sat on their asses while Verizon got their shit together.

Verizon is already deploying 4G and AT&T is just getting around to giving us MMS and upgrading 3G. Whatever. Bye.
post #20 of 88
From what I've read the problem was that Cingular's old analog TDMA network was sitting on the 850Mhz spectrum. AT&T was trying to push customer off of it onto GSM before they could shut it down. AT&T sent letters to TDMA customers who would not switch warning them that their phone service was going to be discontinued. Apparently there were some number of people who never heed the warning and AT&T was forced to shut it down. That is what held up the 850Mhz transition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ski1 View Post

AT&T does not need FCC approval for the 850MHz 3G upgrades. The 850MHz frequencies they are upgrading are already owned and in use by AT&T. They are just converting these towers from EDGE to 3G.
post #21 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Psych_guy View Post

You sound as though you work in the industry, as do I. Yes, the main problem with any carrier opening new areas to coverage is the political/legal quagmire as you say. Cities and counties just don't want cell sites in their backyards. They are very NIMBY. But they want the coverage, and then you have private citizens that fearmonger against cancer, birth defects, etc. It's tough going to get a cell site permitted.

I roll my eyes when I hear the ignorant fools here just say, "Damn AT&T! Fix it!". They don't know the half of what it takes.

And I roll my eyes when supposed uber techs pontificate about how complex their job is and what a big deal it is.

Then answer me this wonderboy- How come in the flattest swath of SF in a neighborhood called the mission there is shot for coverage? How come AT&T will acknowledge that fact and let you out of an early termination fee?

Stop talking like a douche and get to work, tool.

Oh and btw... "private citizens"? Are you in the military? no.. you're an engineer. moron. Let me clue you into a fact- you're a private citizen too.
post #22 of 88
So let me get this straight? You are complaining because AT&T will acknowledge their service sucks in your area and let you out of your contract, is that really something to complain about?

The rest of what you said adds nothing to the quality of our civil dialogue.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRR View Post

And I roll my eyes when supposed uber techs pontificate about how complex their job is and what a big deal it is.

Then answer me this wonderboy- How come in the flattest swath of SF in a neighborhood called the mission there is shot for coverage? How come AT&T will acknowledge that fact and let you out of an early termination fee?

Stop talking like a douche and get to work, tool.

Oh and btw... "private citizens"? Are you in the military? no.. you're an engineer. moron. Let me clue you into a fact- you're a private citizen too.
post #23 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

From what I've read the problem was that Cingular's old analog TDMA network was sitting on the 850Mhz spectrum. AT&T was trying to push customer off of it onto GSM before they could shut it down. AT&T sent letters to TDMA customers who would not switch warning them that their phone service was going to be discontinued. Apparently there were some number of people who never heed the warning and AT&T was forced to shut it down. That is what held up the 850Mhz transition.

AT&T analog & TDMA was shutoff in Feb 2008.

http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/ar...tification.jsp
post #24 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRR View Post

Then answer me this wonderboy- How come in the flattest swath of SF in a neighborhood called the mission there is shot for coverage? How come AT&T will acknowledge that fact and let you out of an early termination fee?

Stop talking like a douche and get to work, tool.

In the comment he was commending your query was likely answered.
Quote:
4) More cell towers - This is the hard part. There are all kinds of license, zoning and other costs associate with the towers. Even switching an existing tower over can be a legal/political quagmire.

You state that AT&T understands the problem, lets people out of contracts early and sends them off to other carriers for service. This certainly sounds like they have their hands tied at the moment with coverage in that area.
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post #25 of 88
Yes I know, what is your point?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ski1 View Post

AT&T analog TDMA was shutoff in Feb 2008.
post #26 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Too little too late. AT&T sat on their asses while Verizon got their shit together.

Relatively speaking, it would seem Verizon sat on its @ss, because it didn't have (or want) the iPhone and therefore didn't need to support much 3G usage in any given area. Kinda makes it easier to roll out 3G to a wider area, if there isn't so much usage anywhere.
post #27 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Yes I know, what is your point?

You claimed it was the delayed shutdown of the 850MHz analog/TDMA that slowed the transition for its use for 3G. But the shutdown was not delayed. It was planned since 2006 for shutdown in Feb 2008. And Feb 2008 is almost 2 years ago.
post #28 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRR View Post

? no.. you're an engineer. moron.

Sorry, found that funny.

Although seriously, you don't have to give him that kind of attitude, and if he is an engineer, perhaps he does have a better idea of what goes on. There's no reason for disrespect.
post #29 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

Relatively speaking, it would seem Verizon sat on its @ss, because it didn't have (or want) the iPhone and therefore didn't need to support much 3G usage in any given area. Kinda makes it easier to roll out 3G to a wider area, if there isn't so much usage anywhere.

A.T.&T. put out a press release over the summer that they upgraded their 3G network in New York City.There must be another New York City somewhere. I probably use about 1/3 of a full battery charge just waiting for things to happen on the 3G network.
post #30 of 88
I cannot find it now. But there was an article from 2007 when the iPhone was first released and there was all the talk about AT&T's lack of 3G coverage. AT&T said at the time that it wanted to shut down its TDMA network as soon as it could but there was a small number of people who continued to use it and delayed shutting it down. The Feb 2008 deadline was the final deadline.

Even after AT&T shut down TDMA it could not just instantly turn on 3G. It has to upgrade equipment and software for hundreds of towers and switching stations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ski1 View Post

You claimed it was the delayed shutdown of the 850MHz analog TDMA that slowed the transition for its use for 3G. But the shutdown was not delayed. It was planned since 2006 for shutdown in Feb 2008. And Feb 2008 is almost 2 years ago.
post #31 of 88
That's what happens when you have 30 iPhones trying to download data from the same tower. There is only so much AT&T can do about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Runner9 View Post

A.T.&T. put out a press release over the summer that they upgraded their 3G network in New York City.There must be another New York City somewhere. I probably use about 1/3 of a full battery charge just waiting for things to happen on the 3G network.
post #32 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski1 View Post

You claimed it was the delayed shutdown of the 850MHz analog TDMA that slowed the transition for its use for 3G. But the shutdown was not delayed. It was planned since 2006 for shutdown in Feb 2008. And Feb 2008 is almost 2 years ago.

He didnt say it was delayed. it could very well have been taken down on the schedule they set. That doesnt mean their imposed deadllne on the 850MHz werent holding up their ability to start using the spectrum in a new way.
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post #33 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

I cannot find it now. But there was an article from 2007 when the iPhone was first released and there was all the talk about AT&T's lack of 3G coverage. AT&T said at the time that it wanted to shut down its TDMA network as soon as it could but there was a small number of people who continued to use it and delayed shutting it down. The Feb 2008 deadline was the final deadline.

Even after AT&T shut down TDMA it could not just instantly turn on 3G. It has to upgrade equipment and software for hundreds of towers and switching stations.

The article I linked in my previous post states the Feb 2008 deadline was planned since 2006. Feb 2008 was also when Verizon shut down their Analog network. But yet Verizon was able to expand their 3G network a lot faster then AT&T.
post #34 of 88
Just bear with me.

AT&T could have said February 2008 is the final deadline for the shut down of our TDMA network. AT&T was sending letters out to people letting them know it would be shut down two years prior, AT&T hoped to shut it down sooner if they could get everyone off of it sooner. A number of people stayed on TDMA up until the final imposed deadline.

Yes we all know Verizon did a better job at executing its 3G roll out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ski1 View Post

The article I linked in my previous post states the Feb 2008 deadline was planned since 2006. Feb 2008 was also when Verizon shut down their Analog network. But yet Verizon was able to expand their 3G network a lot faster then AT&T.
post #35 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Just bear with me.

AT&T could have said February 2008 is the final deadline for the shut down of our TDMA network. AT&T was sending letters out to people letting them know it would be shut down two years prior, AT&T hoped to shut it down sooner if they could get everyone off of it sooner. A number of people stayed on TDMA up until the final imposed deadline.

Yes we all know Verizon did a better job at executing its 3G roll out.

AT&T or Verizon could not shut off analog off any sooner. There was no hoping involved to shut it down sooner. The FCC required them to keep analog active until Feb 18, 2008. And this rule was put in place in 2002.

http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/ind...me&id=cellular
post #36 of 88
That's not entirely true as in AT&T's press release it says AT&T began shutting down TDMA in some states before the Feb 2008 deadline. I'm sure there was a rule in the fine print that if analog usage has fallen to a certain level the carrier could turn it off before Feb 2008. But on the Feb 2008 deadline they were free to turn it off regardless of how many people were using it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ski1 View Post

AT&T or Verizon could not shut off analog off any sooner. There was no hoping involved to shut it down sooner. The FCC required them to keep analog active until Feb 18, 2008.

http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/ind...me&id=cellular
post #37 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Psych_guy View Post


I roll my eyes when I hear the ignorant fools here...

For you who are quick to point out me slamming this guy...

he's calling his customer base ignorant fools. AT&T has had years to step up, and SF is very small as far as urban areas go. His pontificating post is just so lame he deserves to get knocked down a rung. I mean puhlease.. we're all private citizens. what a joke. this guy lives in some kind of fantasy land.. and if this is the attitude of the engineers.. no wonder here we are three years later with the same shit service in the same small area.

I don't give AT&T a pass at this point- and only a patsy would.

secondly- yes. I can get out of AT&T .. but I do like the iPhone. so where does that leave me? don;t act like that's such an awe inspiring scenario.

I have a buddy looking into unlocking and moving to T mobile.. but I will make my decision based on his experience.. he's always right on with his take on this kind of stuff.
post #38 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

That's not entirely true as in AT&T's press release it says AT&T began shutting down TDMA in some states before the Feb 2008 deadline. I imagine those were areas where TDMA use was either nonexistent or so low as to not matter.

Shutting down TDMA is different then shutting down analog. TDMA is digital. Analog was still active until Feb 2008.
post #39 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRR View Post

For you who are quick to point out me slamming this guy...

he's calling his customer base ignorant fools. AT&T has had years to step up, and SF is very small as far as urban areas go. His pontificating post is just so lame he deserves to get knocked down a rung. I mean puhlease.. we're all private citizens. what a joke. this guy lives in some kind of fantasy land.. and if this is the attitude of the engineers.. no wonder here we are three years later with the same shit service in the same small area.

I don't give AT&T a pass at this point- and only a patsy would.

secondly- yes. I can get out of AT&T .. but I do like the iPhone. so where does that leave me? don;t act like that's such an awe inspiring scenario.

I have a buddy looking into unlocking and moving to T mobile.. but I will make my decision based on his experience.. he's always right on with his take on this kind of stuff.

No, you're the one being lame here.

I've listened to a few of these cell phone tower hearings, and compared to many of the 'private citizens' you are an uber tech. And the politicians and so called subject subject experts are not much better. Anything and everything is complained about, bitched about and just plain confused that it is a wonder that anything gets approved. And believe it or not, most of the complaints are about seeing the towers.That's why towers are being hid as fake trees, in fake buildings and even hid over the ridges of mountains. Just so they can't be seen.
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post #40 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski1 View Post

The article I linked in my previous post states the Feb 2008 deadline was planned since 2006. Feb 2008 was also when Verizon shut down their Analog network. But yet Verizon was able to expand their 3G network a lot faster then AT&T.

Compared to AT&T, how much traffic does Verizon really have on its 3G network?

I believe Congress mandated analog support until Feb. 2008. The carriers would have dumped it sooner, if they had been allowed.
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