or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › AT&T announces completion of nationwide 3G upgrade
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

AT&T announces completion of nationwide 3G upgrade

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
AT&T reported the successful completion of a nationwide software upgrade program that will enable the company to deliver High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 Mbit technology across its 3G cell sites. However, the company is still mum on its 3G MicroCell progress.

Twice as fast, if you can get a signal.

The upgrade is the first of several initiatives to be completed as part of AT&T's overall network enhancement strategy. The company's current HSPA 3.6 Mbit 3G service is already giving AT&T bragging rights to operating America's fastest mobile network, and the update will enable mobile data throughput of up to twice as fast.

Apple's iPhone 3GS, which shipped last summer, is already equipped to take advantage of the faster tier of 3G service. At the same time, the company's network is being dinged by customers for its spotty coverage limitations, particularly in specific areas.

AT&T said the upgrade increases the company's network efficiency and will help in "generally improving consistency in accessing data sessions" for its customers. Additional work now underway and continuing through the next two years will, the company said, "dramatically increase the number of high-speed backhaul connections to cell sites, primarily with fiber-optic connections, adding capacity from cell sites to the AT&T backbone network."

The initial deployment of backhaul improvements is already underway in the six markets AT&T previously announced: Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami, with "capabilities being turned up on a site-by-site basis beginning last month," the company reported, adding, "We anticipate that the majority of our 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."

"We are focused on providing our customers with the industry's best combination of mobile broadband speed, performance, coverage and available devices," said John Stankey, president and CEO of AT&T Operations, who announced the network updates at the Citigroup 20th Annual Global Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference today. Â*

LTE in the works as well

"As we light up new backhaul connections across the country," Stankey said, "we're able to deliver a meaningful 3G speed boost for millions of customers who are already using HSPA 7.2-compatible devices. Â*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."

The company said it is designing its new backhaul deployments to accommodate both faster 3G and future "4G" LTE deployments. "AT&T currently plans to begin trials of LTE technology this year, and to begin LTE deployment in 2011, matching industry time lines for widespread availability of compelling devices and supporting network equipment."

"Even as we look forward to LTE, 3G will be the predominant mobile broadband network technology worldwide for smartphones for the next few years," Stankey said. Â*"AT&T's strategy will deliver faster 3G speeds over the next two years, while also allowing us to build the foundation for the LTE future."

The 3G and LTE upgrade initiatives "follow a series of major enhancement projects in 2009 that have dramatically enhanced performance of AT&T's wireless network." Last year, the companies says it deployed five times the number of backhaul connections compared with 2008. Additionally, the company reported that in 2009 it deployed high-quality 850 MHz spectrum in hundreds of markets to support 3G services and added thousands of new cell sites to expand and enhance 3G coverage. Â*

"All told, in 2008 and through Q3 of 2009 AT&T invested approximately $19 billion toward wireless, with a focus on expanding and enhancing network capabilities, including network infrastructure, spectrum purchases and acquisitions," the company reported. It also claimed that "these efforts have resulted in AT&T continuing to deliver the nation's fastest 3G network, and in delivering 3G national call retainability of 98.92 percent, meaning that only 1.08 percent of calls are dropped nationwide, based on 3G-specific, internal data."

Can you hear me now?

At the same time, the company has still not directly addressed serious problems in New York City and San Francisco, which are both dealing with of large numbers of iPhone users while suffering from challenging density and topographical issues.

In the holiday quarter, Apple shipped an estimated 8 to 10 million additional iPhones, many of which are being plugged into AT&T's US network. While the company has promised to deploy its MicroCell 3G to help alleviate service holes in specific locations for its paying subscribers located in areas of poor reception, it is still limiting the appliance to just a few test markets around the country and refusing to comment on its future plans.

The Duke Nukem MicroCell perpetual beta

One reader reports, "I was visiting family over the holidays in San Diego, where they're 'testing' [the 3G MicroCell]. I went to the store and was very up front: I told them I was from out of town, and if it wasn't going to work when I got home that I didn't want one. They punched in my address and assured me it would work. And it did, for about a week. Apparently there was a bug that was allowing my address in Santa Clara to be accepted. They 'fixed' that, which bricked my MicroCell.

"Their response is that I must ship the unit back to the store in San Diego for a refund. They've been 'testing' these things for, what, nine months now? And now I feel like the kid in those bank commercials who is given a toy only to have it taken away by a boob in a suit with a fake smile on his face."
post #2 of 44
Ding. Ding. Ding.

This is what they were doing instead of bring regular ol' 3G service to my area, I guess.

And what's with the extreme overuse of the term 'backhaul'? Is that this month's
industry buzzword or something? Eww.
Journalism is publishing what someone doesn't want us to know; the rest is propaganda.
-Horacio Verbitsky (el perro), journalist (b. 1942)
Reply
Journalism is publishing what someone doesn't want us to know; the rest is propaganda.
-Horacio Verbitsky (el perro), journalist (b. 1942)
Reply
post #3 of 44
Reminds me of the whole "Mission Accomplished" sign fiasco...

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #4 of 44
Actually backhaul has nothing to do with the wireless. But it does connect the cell towers to the internet and vice versa. Anyway, nice to hear that they're doing that... but where's the real expansion? You know, the type of expansion that covers more cities than Verizon?.. or something to that effect. Which is why I stick to T-Mobile, b/c the coverage is just as good (or bad) as AT&T's, except that there aren't as many iPhones on the network
post #5 of 44
Houston was supposed to be upgraded. If so, I can't tell a difference. Doing a speed test depends ENTIRELY on from where you request the test. I get from 1.5Mb/s to .25 with Speed Test. You really can't tell what you're getting when contacting a particular server.
post #6 of 44
"That word, I do not think it means what you think ita means.
http://www.wireless.att.com/coverage...28515625&sci=1 (AT&T coverage map)
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Reminds me of the whole "Mission Accomplished" sign fiasco...

Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #7 of 44
I truly don't get why they're dragging their heels on the MicroCell devices.
The only place I don't get really good reception is in my own damned home. Give me one of these and I'm a totally happy camper.
They really are clueless.
post #8 of 44
If voice calls are really that bad in NY and SF then why aren't other phones experiencing the same number of issues??? Why not switch to VoIP (Skype for iPhone) and see if the connections in those areas improve? Do their data connection timeout all the time too or something?
post #9 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

I truly don't get why they're dragging their heels on the MicroCell devices.
The only place I don't get really good reception is in my own damned home. Give me one of these and I'm a totally happy camper.
They really are clueless.

Perhaps they dont work so well.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #10 of 44
Big deal. The wireless connection speed doesn't matter all that much unless you decide to download a movie directly to the phone. For basic web browsing and such, anything over a 1.5 meg connection will not be noticeably faster. The issue comes with latency. Since web browsing is dealing with many relatively small files, the time it takes for data to start flowing makes more of a difference than the maximum data flow speed.

The other issue is the backhaul of the towers. Getting a fast connection to the tower doesn't matter if the pipe from the tower to the internet is clogged. That's where a large portion of the slowdown issues occur.
post #11 of 44
Just tried my first speed test in quite a while and got my highest result ever (on my 3GS):

I'm in Austin.

Test Date: Jan 5, 2010 5:35:13 PM
Connection Type: Cellular

Download: 2936 kbps
Upload: 244 kbps
Ping: 259 ms

post #12 of 44
Now the entire country can have lousy 3G coverage from AT&T.
post #13 of 44
No change in Detroit area. Slow as ever (<500kbps).
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple's iPhone 3GS, which shipped last summer, is already equipped to take advantage of the faster tier of 3G service.

Crap. That means my 3G won't see any difference, anyway.
post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Give me one of these and I'm a totally happy camper.

not me. i refuse to pay for a microcell, then pay an ISP to carry its network traffic, just so I can get the coverage AT&T probably says I should already have in the first place. it would be different if they were giving them to folks free of charge, but they are not.
"Personally, I would like nothing more than to thoroughly proof each and every word of my articles before posting. But I can't."

appleinsider's mike campbell, august 15, 2013
Reply
"Personally, I would like nothing more than to thoroughly proof each and every word of my articles before posting. But I can't."

appleinsider's mike campbell, august 15, 2013
Reply
post #16 of 44
They did what? At my home, I still have to use Edge. We do not even have 3G here...

Zip Code 29626
post #17 of 44
Notify us when you're finished upgrading your edge (the majority of the network) sites to 3G.
post #18 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ptogel View Post

They did what? At my home, I still have to use Edge. We do not even have 3G here...

Zip Code 29626

Yeah, I lose 3G service in Easley and Simpsonville. If you stay in Greenville, you're OK.
post #19 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Perhaps they dont work so well.

I hope they have realized that the business model is a little off on them. I would think that proper picocells (company-owned infrastructure) is the way to go.

When I lived in Hong Kong, most of the buildings had company-owned micro-cells in order to contend with the metal-pan ceilings and high densities. Even the elevator had an antenna. Today the picocells make much more sense for the majority of instances where they have the most problems (high density/rough terrain).

Their MicroCell campaign has the problem of using up their frequencies with access limited to a purchaser-approved list of phones. Maybe allowing unfettered access, but crediting customers based on usage/QOS would be a better plan.
post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

"That word, I do not think it means what you think ita means.
http://www.wireless.att.com/coverage...28515625&sci=1 (AT&T coverage map)


I like how all tiers of service are rendered in a shade of blue, so you can't tell where there is Edge or 3G. Super job AT&T.
post #21 of 44
Too bad its not exactly there yet. What they did is similar to hooking up an 802.11n router to a dial-up internet connection. Your phone may be connected to the cell tower at a higher speed, but the tower isn't hooked up to a faster internet connection! Ha, what a BS press release!

http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/05/a...everywhere-bu/
post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Reminds me of the whole "Mission Accomplished" sign fiasco...

That's so last decade... come, join us in the present...

"Even though I don't have all the facts, the Cambridge Police Department "acted stupidly"! ~ Obama

or

"the system worked" regarding the BVD's Christmas Bomber - Napolitano Secretary, Homeland Security

or

"No Smoking Gun" ~ Brennan

or

"We didn't connect the dots." What?! Again!

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

Reply

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

Reply
post #23 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccjunk View Post

Just tried my first speed test in quite a while and got my highest result ever (on my 3GS):

I'm in Austin.

Test Date: Jan 5, 2010 5:35:13 PM
Connection Type: Cellular

Download: 2936 kbps
Upload: 244 kbps
Ping: 259 ms


Damn, where in Austin? I am up the street in Pfville, and this is what I get:

post #24 of 44
Where's new york, and san francisco on the list?
This is lame! Why is Charollete and Dallas that important on this list? Not a lot of activity that, we know.. Happen there. This really sucks!
post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ulfoaf View Post

Houston was supposed to be upgraded. If so, I can't tell a difference. Doing a speed test depends ENTIRELY on from where you request the test. I get from 1.5Mb/s to .25 with Speed Test. You really can't tell what you're getting when contacting a particular server.

with radio your position compared to the tower will make a lot of difference. i used to work with military radios and it was crazy. you could be well within range and move a few feel to the left or right and get much better reception
post #26 of 44
"And now I feel like the kid in those bank commercials who is given a toy only to have it taken away by a boob in a suit with a fake smile on his face."

They didn't say that you could have a real pony.
post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

Yeah, I lose 3G service in Easley and Simpsonville. If you stay in Greenville, you're OK.

That's how it is everywhere. Bare minimum required.
post #28 of 44
It is truly scary that what they have out there now is considered an "upgrade" to what they had before.

Here's your shit sandwich iPhone users, now with 20% more shit.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Reply

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Reply
post #29 of 44
Up until a few weeks ago, I was getting speeds of 1.4 Mbps on average. I've seen a difference here in Houston recently:

post #30 of 44
I think that AT&T cannot multitask. Apple needs to break the monopoly that AT&T has with the iPhone so that they are compelled to upgrade faster. It's embarassing to tell people I have an iPhone then try to show them something that requires 3G to get something done and it won't connect to it, and sometimes no connection at all unless I turn off 3G.

TMobile is done upgrading and AT&T is just starting? I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise after it took so long just to get MMS turned on and tethering is still a mythological being in the iPhone world. Someday.....
post #31 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

AT&T reported the successful completion of a nationwide software upgrade program that will enable the company to deliver High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 Mbit technology across its 3G cell sites. ...

So they're upgrading the capability of their 3G cells, but are keeping silent about whatever plans they may or may not have to upgrade the 2G cells to 3G.

Their own map says it all. Note the distinct lack of blue (3G) coverage.

So you'll get really high speed in a small number of places and absolutely lousy speed everywhere else.
post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamino View Post

So they're upgrading the capability of their 3G cells, but are keeping silent about whatever plans they may or may not have to upgrade the 2G cells to 3G.

Their own map says it all. Note the distinct lack of blue (3G) coverage.

So you'll get really high speed in a small number of places and absolutely lousy speed everywhere else.

You are in Vienna VA and the map shows very good coverage in the greater DC metro area. What do you want, 3G speeds when you are touring the fall colors along Skyline Dr in the Blue Ridge Mountains?

The map discussion thing is silly marketing hype.

The blue 3G map seems to line up pretty well with the blue/black of the US population density map (below the blues is less than 50 people per square mile):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US...on-density.gif

Good 3G in all metro areas and major highways. Sure if I leave the suburbs of Austin I don't get 3G except along major arteries. I could care less (unless I lived out there as a farmer and then I would probably have to rely on Satellite for high speed wireless Internet). I don't go into the countryside so I can surf Youtube or the Internet. As long as the map works that's all I care about. Why would you need 3G when you are out in rural areas? If you absolutely need to get that email or picture of the countryside to your buddy then Edge will be fine. It's not like you are going to get 1M+ service from Verizon in the countryside either.
post #33 of 44
All I know is that in midtown Manhattan on 5th Avenue in the 40s, an area I would certainly consider to be "prime", it's almost impossible to send/receive data or make/receive a call.

And in my home in Forest Hills, Queens, where Verizon worked perfectly, I can only make/receive calls if the phone is sitting by the window (even a few feet away won't work reliably). I bought a Bluetooth earphone so I don't have to stand by the window.

And their stupid "Mark the Spot" application is absurd. How can you mark the spot if you can't send them the results because it won't connect?

However, even if Apple offered a Verizon compatible (CDMA) phone, my fear is that Verizon would soon be overrun with the same amount of traffic that AT&T has to contend with and service would degrade there as well. But having said that, if Apple does a deal with Verizon, I'm switching back.
post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

All I know is that in midtown Manhattan on 5th Avenue in the 40s, an area I would certainly consider to be "prime", it's almost impossible to send/receive data or make/receive a call.

And in my home in Forest Hills, Queens, where Verizon worked perfectly, I can only make/receive calls if the phone is sitting by the window (even a few feet away won't work reliably). I bought a Bluetooth earphone so I don't have to stand by the window.

And their stupid "Mark the Spot" application is absurd. How can you mark the spot if you can't send them the results because it won't connect?

However, even if Apple offered a Verizon compatible (CDMA) phone, my fear is that Verizon would soon be overrun with the same amount of traffic that AT&T has to contend with and service would degrade there as well. But having said that, if Apple does a deal with Verizon, I'm switching back.


...except that AT&T's reception sucked before the iPhone existed. I never had a single problem with Verizon and can't wait to switch back when it's available.
post #35 of 44
This technology does no good whatsover if you cannot get 3g signal. And that is a common problem thanks to the use of 1900 Mhz and the resulting degraded wall penetration.
post #36 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

All I know is that in midtown Manhattan on 5th Avenue in the 40s, an area I would certainly consider to be "prime", it's almost impossible to send/receive data or make/receive a call.

And in my home in Forest Hills, Queens, where Verizon worked perfectly, I can only make/receive calls if the phone is sitting by the window (even a few feet away won't work reliably). I bought a Bluetooth earphone so I don't have to stand by the window.

And their stupid "Mark the Spot" application is absurd. How can you mark the spot if you can't send them the results because it won't connect?

However, even if Apple offered a Verizon compatible (CDMA) phone, my fear is that Verizon would soon be overrun with the same amount of traffic that AT&T has to contend with and service would degrade there as well. But having said that, if Apple does a deal with Verizon, I'm switching back.

Some of this should just be laid outright on AT&T's feet. I'll give you an example. We recently drove to Las Vegas from the Los Angeles area on Interstate 15. This is a very heavily traveled road. It has entire large sections that have no 3G coverage at all. We aren't talking BFE, or flyover country. We are talking the major freeway that probably has half a million folks on it on busy weekends and a very decent number most weekends. There was roughly 150 miles with no 3G coverage that Verizon had completely blanketed while AT&T had nothing.

This is exactly the type of circumstance where service would be nice and we can't debate if the 3G could be improved. There isn't any 3G service there.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Reply

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Reply
post #37 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccjunk View Post

You are in Vienna VA and the map shows very good coverage in the greater DC metro area. What do you want, 3G speeds when you are touring the fall colors along Skyline Dr in the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Yes. What makes you think I only want to use my phone when I'm at home? I've got a 20M FiOS link when I'm at home.

I do a lot of traveling by car, away from the interstates. When I'm in upstate New York, western Pennsylvania, or countless other places, my friends with AT&T phones often get no signal at all while my Verizon phone continues working fine, with EVDO links at almost all locations. Even central New Jersey - which is only a few miles from AT&T's main R&D centers - has poor-to-nonexistent AT&T coverage.

I'm glad you never travel any significant distance from major population centers, but don't use that as an excuse for a lousy network and don't try to make me believe that there's something wrong with me for wanting better.
post #38 of 44
Well said, shamino. That farmer out in the field would probably be in greater need of a cellphone signal in a life or death situation than the dude yapping on his cellphone in a McDonalds in the city when he should be ordering his food as well. My home county in Oklahoma, which is in a rural area, one of the yellow counties on the population density map, there are no interstate highways and the biggest town is population 1000. Yet there are 10 GSM towers and 12 CDMA towers in the county. The GSM sites are owned either by T-Mobile or CellularOne, and each carrier has roaming agreements with each other. The CDMA towers are owned by Pioneer Cellular and they have roaming agreements with Sprint, Verizon, and US Cellular. They cover every single inch of the county and signal is great on all of them. AT&T has ONE cellsite in the entire county and cannot roam on ANY of the other GSM carriers. AT&T has a license for this county, yet has not built any sort of network that will cover it. In 20 years! That's how long they have had this license. Just a five mile radius around that one tower. In my opinion, the FCC should start a proceeding with AT&T, heck why not all the carriers, in which they require these companies to actually build out ONE network, be it EDGE, 3G, LTE, Clearwire, whatever, that will cover their licensed area once and for all, or give up those licenses to someone who WILL build the network.
post #39 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ggore View Post

Well said, shamino. That farmer out in the field would probably be in greater need of a cellphone signal in a life or death situation than the dude yapping on his cellphone in a McDonalds in the city when he should be ordering his food as well. My home county in Oklahoma, which is in a rural area, one of the yellow counties on the population density map, there are no interstate highways and the biggest town is population 1000. Yet there are 10 GSM towers and 12 CDMA towers in the county. The GSM sites are owned either by T-Mobile or CellularOne, and each carrier has roaming agreements with each other. The CDMA towers are owned by Pioneer Cellular and they have roaming agreements with Sprint, Verizon, and US Cellular. They cover every single inch of the county and signal is great on all of them. AT&T has ONE cellsite in the entire county and cannot roam on ANY of the other GSM carriers. AT&T has a license for this county, yet has not built any sort of network that will cover it. In 20 years! That's how long they have had this license. Just a five mile radius around that one tower. In my opinion, the FCC should start a proceeding with AT&T, heck why not all the carriers, in which they require these companies to actually build out ONE network, be it EDGE, 3G, LTE, Clearwire, whatever, that will cover their licensed area once and for all, or give up those licenses to someone who WILL build the network.

Thanks for this great piece of information. This is a lot more concrete than my observations while traveling.

But I don't think the FCC needs to get involved. If there are other carriers with good coverage (and from what you describe, there are) then you should just subscribe to one of them and not use AT&T. Even if they don't get the hint, you'll be on a network with good coverage.

I agree, it's no fun having to choose between coverage and an iPhone, but you do have the choice. IMO, government should only get involved in when people don't have choices. (Choice as in "it's AT&T or nothing", not choice as in "my favorite model handset isn't available from my favorite carrier.)
post #40 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Perhaps they dont work so well.

I can assure you that for the week I was able to use one, that it did work well. Quite well indeed.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: iPhone
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › AT&T announces completion of nationwide 3G upgrade