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AT&T hurrying massive network update for new iPhone launch

post #1 of 86
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AT&T is rushing to rollout a major upgrade to its 3G mobile data service in anticipation of a tenfold increase in network traffic from new iPhone hardware expected to go on sale in June, according to a vendor source.

Apple's exclusive mobile service provider in the US has already laid out plans to upgrade its 3G data network on multiple fronts. Last month AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega said in an interview that "we have the infrastructure capability to go to 7.2 [Mbit/s], and we'll have the capability to go 14.4 and 20 in the next couple of years, so I think there's coverage we're going to improve, there's quality we're going to improve, and there's speed that's also going to get improved."

The current iPhone 3G only supports a maximum of 3.6 Mbit/s, so AT&T's plans to achieve the full potential of its current 3GPP Release 5 network technology would require new iPhone hardware to fully exploit. However, the wireless link between the phone and the cell tower is only part of the network speed equation. Another factor is the speed and capacity of AT&T's network backbone.

Reports have already indicated that about half of the mobile data traffic AT&T handles is related to the iPhone. Web statistics from Net Applications also show that more than two thirds of all US mobile web data traffic is used by the iPhone, which also makes use of WiFi.

But AT&T's upgrade is expected to result in moving even more data across its mobile network, with one source saying they "expect [to] see 10 times as much data traffic as they are now experiencing" once new iPhone hardware is released this summer.

New routers to speed mobile network

The network rollout is reported to be connected to a "massive" order of new Juniper routers that can handle higher data throughputs optimized for video streaming and related features targeted toward video stream broadcasts, the source said. AppleInsider later confirmed that AT&T recently took receipt of a large batch of Juniper routers.

For its part, Apple has been evaluating a portion of the network upgrade already accessible to its engineers for testing purposes and is genuinely impressed with its speed. A person familiar with the situation commented that Apple iPhone engineers have "never gotten pages to load as fast as they were loading on the new routers."

Still, there's reportedly quite a bit of work to be done. AT&T network engineers have been tasked with installing and testing the new equipment over the next two months with the goal of being ready weeks in advance of a June launch. Apple has reportedly set a strict deadline that asks AT&T to complete the upgrade, quality test it, and have it ready to go live no later than May 31st.

AT&T's latest network upgrade certainly isn't unprecedented. While all of the mobile operators are constantly performing upgrades to their networks, AT&T pushed to expand EDGE coverage and speed for its 2G GSM network in conjunction with the launch of the original iPhone, and accelerated its 3G UMTS network expansion to accommodate last year's iPhone 3G launch.

Service coverage improvements also coming inline

In addition to the new backbone network upgrades, AT&T is also working to improve its 3G coverage in markets currently served by 1900MHz cell towers by migrating to 850MHz service in several markets. AT&T's de la Vega said that by the end of 2009, "we'll finish [the 850MHz transition in] San Francisco, we'll finish parts of New York, and then that'll bring the best technology 3G on the best backbone to significantly improve the quality and the coverage for 3G on our network."

The longer wavelength, lower frequency 850MHz band has been growing in popularity among mobile providers because it provides greater coverage area using fewer towers and better penetration through walls and other barriers, such as foliage. AT&T uses both 850MHz and 1900MHz bands for 3G UMTS in the US.

Last June, Kris Rinne, AT&T's Senior Vice President of Architecture and Planning, was cited in an industry press release as saying, "AT&T has delivered HSPA service at 850MHz wherever possible, with more on the way this year as we redeploy additional 850 spectrum previously used for our TDMA network," indicating a continuation of the company's often repeated strategy of deploying additional 850MHz coverage to strengthen its 3G service in the US.
post #2 of 86
that's for new contracts right???
and i guess it confirms upgraded radio chip in new iphone
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post #3 of 86
Clout, iPhone has.
post #4 of 86
incoming iPhone XL / tablet imo
post #5 of 86
I hope it's more than a patch here, a patch there- what they're known for.
post #6 of 86
Two questions:

What could a single phone offer in terms of an upgrade that would drive a "10X" increase in data usage on a network? Streaming video? Video chat? Tethering?

Although those are all obvious big data utilizers, I can't see how new sales of a single phone could reasonably be expected to produce such a huge increase.

And, how can ATT be credibly expected to meet such a demand? I read the article, I see the explanations of what they're doing, but I find it hard to believe that ATT, or any carrier for that matter, is in a position to even double, much increase tenfold, their data capacity within a few months just because they believe a new model phone is going to put additional demands on their network.

I think it's reasonable to assume that the new iPhone will increase data usage on ATT's network, and that ATT is doing what it can, as fast as it can, to increase their capacity.

But the actual numbers being tossed around sound crazy.
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post #7 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOFEER View Post

that's for new contracts right???
and i guess it confirms upgraded radio chip in new iphone

It is possible that "current iPhone" in this context means the currently available combination of hardware and software/firmware, and that the 3.0 iPhone OS update will enable the current 3G incarnation of the hardware to take advantage of the higher speed. Of course, time will tell.

Since I have an original iPhone - I am hoping the latest hardware offers something more than just slapping 3.0 software on the current phone - might actually be enough to get me to buy a new iPhone.
post #8 of 86
I'll believe it when I see it. Just about every other 3g cellphones works great inside buildings. Yes cells with AT&T 3g. iPhone rarely works inside buildings.
post #9 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Two questions:

What could a single phone offer in terms of an upgrade that would drive a "10X" increase in data usage on a network? Streaming video? Video chat? Tethering?

Although those are all obvious big data utilizers, I can't see how new sales of a single phone could reasonably be expected to produce such a huge increase.

And, how can ATT be credibly expected to meet such a demand? I read the article, I see the explanations of what they're doing, but I find it hard to believe that ATT, or any carrier for that matter, is in a position to even double, much increase tenfold, their data capacity within a few months just because they believe a new model phone is going to put additional demands on their network.

I think it's reasonable to assume that the new iPhone will increase data usage on ATT's network, and that ATT is doing what it can, as fast as it can, to increase their capacity.

But the actual numbers being tossed around sound crazy.

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post #10 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Two questions:

What could a single phone offer in terms of an upgrade that would drive a "10X" increase in data usage on a network? Streaming video? Video chat? Tethering?

Although those are all obvious big data utilizers, I can't see how new sales of a single phone could reasonably be expected to produce such a huge increase.

And, how can ATT be credibly expected to meet such a demand? I read the article, I see the explanations of what they're doing, but I find it hard to believe that ATT, or any carrier for that matter, is in a position to even double, much increase tenfold, their data capacity within a few months just because they believe a new model phone is going to put additional demands on their network.

I think it's reasonable to assume that the new iPhone will increase data usage on ATT's network, and that ATT is doing what it can, as fast as it can, to increase their capacity.

But the actual numbers being tossed around sound crazy.

AT&T threw numbers like that around the last two times and still hasn't gotten it right.
Read please: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/14/te...y/14phone.html
post #11 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by slapppy View Post

I'll believe it when I see it. Just about every other 3g cellphones works great inside buildings. Yes cells with AT&T 3g. iPhone rarely works inside buildings.

I've only lost signal a couple of times with my 3G, and even fewer with my first gen iPhone. I use an elevator several times a day and I never lose signal there, either. I think it's more a function of where you are than what phone you use.

My hope is that tethering will be allowed under existing data contracts, but I'm not going to hold my breath on that one.
post #12 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Two questions:

What could a single phone offer in terms of an upgrade that would drive a "10X" increase in data usage on a network? Streaming video? Video chat? Tethering?

Although those are all obvious big data utilizers, I can't see how new sales of a single phone could reasonably be expected to produce such a huge increase.

And, how can ATT be credibly expected to meet such a demand? I read the article, I see the explanations of what they're doing, but I find it hard to believe that ATT, or any carrier for that matter, is in a position to even double, much increase tenfold, their data capacity within a few months just because they believe a new model phone is going to put additional demands on their network.

I think it's reasonable to assume that the new iPhone will increase data usage on ATT's network, and that ATT is doing what it can, as fast as it can, to increase their capacity.

But the actual numbers being tossed around sound crazy.



Perhaps they are including in the projection the number of potential new customers who do no yet have an iPhone - and or who have an original iPhone who would likely upgrade to 3G in the near future - and or more folks using their iPhone more often instead of pulling out the notebook - and or an increase in the amount of data transmitted over 3G with the new in app purchases and such. All of which can be additive - double the number of users times double the number of transactions each one can perform directly from the phone = a 4x increase in traffic times double the daily hours spent sending or receiving data = 8x increase. Oh yeah, and with MMS that alone could increase the amount of data being sent or received by each user.

Wouldn't it be nice if their engineers actually believed the 10X increase in traffic was going to be real and updated the network to actually in fact support 10X the traffic?
post #13 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kasper View Post

Video.

Video + tethering.

And, competition.
post #14 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by slapppy View Post

I'll believe it when I see it. Just about every other 3g cellphones works great inside buildings. Yes cells with AT&T 3g. iPhone rarely works inside buildings.

So, it's not just my workplace that is a black hole for cellphone reception?
post #15 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by user_23 View Post

Video + tethering.

And, competition.

And that would include upgrading their reputation. We shall see.
post #16 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

I hope it's more than a patch here, a patch there- what they're known for.

They were supposed to start rolling it out in my area in January... Ha!

Looks like patches to me.
post #17 of 86
Here's a thought. Why not increase regular coverage before you expand 3G. My 2G iphone can't even make a phone call in my quaint little Boston suburb. WTF. I asked AT&T to reimburse me for what I spend on skype to make calls at home. Of course they said no. But what scumbags.
post #18 of 86
Quote:
The current iPhone 3G only supports a maximum of 3.6 Mbit/s, so AT&T's plans to achieve the full potential of its current 3GPP Release 5 network technology would require new iPhone hardware to fully exploit.

Is anyone getting anywhere near 3.6 Mbps with their iPhone in 3G mode? On Wired's last survey, 1 Mbps is what an average AT&T subscriber will experience.
post #19 of 86
"Apple has reportedly set a strict deadline that asks..."

LOL. Asks?
post #20 of 86
I believe Apple is also working on a 3G enebled Macbook. That would use up a lot a bandwidth.
J.
post #21 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

So, it's not just my workplace that is a black hole for cellphone reception?

Works full bars in my building and, surprisingly, full bars in the elevators of our 42 story building.
post #22 of 86
Maybe AT&T wants to put some antennas on my house. Then I can collect the $10,000 per month lease AND i'll be able to make calls.
post #23 of 86
Let's not forget there are other 3G style phones out there that ATT is and will be selling.

Skip
post #24 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Two questions:

What could a single phone offer in terms of an upgrade that would drive a "10X" increase in data usage on a network? Streaming video? Video chat? Tethering?

I think they are talking about how new hardware is expected to add hundreds more subscribers (just like from the first to the second did) and thus they need to be able to handle it.

which is awesome that they aren't making the same mistake twice and waiting to see just how much more traffic they end up with.

makes me think it would be delightful if Apple leaked false rumors of new phone hardware so ATT would get it together and fix the network flaws so Apple doesn't have to listen to the gripes and suits that are caused by ATT's lacking coverage etc.

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post #25 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by filburt View Post

Is anyone getting anywhere near 3.6 Mbps with their iPhone in 3G mode? On Wired's last survey, 1 Mbps is what an average AT&T subscriber will experience.

No, and it feels like dial-up.
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post #26 of 86
Yup, sounds like they'll be getting ready for more than the iPhone. This could be the beginning of the wireless providers being the main ISPs of the future. Unless they F it up by charging too much and providing unreliable coverage. As I'm sure they will, but at least it's a start.
post #27 of 86
OK, so here's my concern: that AT&T is, in fact, correct about the big increases in data usage come the new iPhone (because of big upticks in number of users, or video, or tethering, or increased usage per user, or some combination of all of that), but they are, as is their wont, kinda blowing smoke re the fast and furious rollout of the new giga mega infrastructure designed to handle all this.

Under that scenario, average iPhone user experience gets worse, because the increased data demand outstrips AT&T's response.
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post #28 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by slapppy View Post

I'll believe it when I see it. Just about every other 3g cellphones works great inside buildings. Yes cells with AT&T 3g. iPhone rarely works inside buildings.

Mine does. Do you actually have one?
post #29 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by filburt View Post

Is anyone getting anywhere near 3.6 Mbps with their iPhone in 3G mode? On Wired's last survey, 1 Mbps is what an average AT&T subscriber will experience.

I don't know of anyone, with any phone, on any network that gets anywhere near that speed.

It's only theoretical. Even WiFi at home, with no real interference, gets no more than a fraction of the rated speed. That's the problem with all over the air networks, no matter what they are.
post #30 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

OK, so here's my concern: that AT&T is, in fact, correct about the big increases in data usage come the new iPhone (because of big upticks in number of users, or video, or tethering, or increased usage per user, or some combination of all of that), but they are, as is their wont, kinda blowing smoke re the fast and furious rollout of the new giga mega infrastructure designed to handle all this.

Under that scenario, average iPhone user experience gets worse, because the increased data demand outstrips AT&T's response.

My 3G got vastly better in the past few months, suddenly.

At first, I was reporting problems here with 3G dropouts, poor 3G reception, slow 3G reception. This was at my house.

Then it just got better overnight.

A couple of weeks later I read that they're moving 3G to 850 MHz, and it made sense.
post #31 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Two questions:

What could a single phone offer in terms of an upgrade that would drive a "10X" increase in data usage on a network? Streaming video? Video chat? Tethering?

Although those are all obvious big data utilizers, I can't see how new sales of a single phone could reasonably be expected to produce such a huge increase.

And, how can ATT be credibly expected to meet such a demand? I read the article, I see the explanations of what they're doing, but I find it hard to believe that ATT, or any carrier for that matter, is in a position to even double, much increase tenfold, their data capacity within a few months just because they believe a new model phone is going to put additional demands on their network.

I think it's reasonable to assume that the new iPhone will increase data usage on ATT's network, and that ATT is doing what it can, as fast as it can, to increase their capacity.

But the actual numbers being tossed around sound crazy.

In addition to what the people before me have said i would like to add that they are not only upgrading towers, but the whole infrastructure. Remember right after the other launches all the servers going down making it almost impossible to activate peoples iphones? just saying
post #32 of 86
Every iPhone should come with an Airport 3G base station...
Then maybe we could get some decent reception at home.
post #33 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by filburt View Post

Is anyone getting anywhere near 3.6 Mbps with their iPhone in 3G mode?

The fastest I had so far (testing with iPhone Speedtest) was 2.34 Mbps this was using a jailbroken iPhone 3G with a Vodafone SIM downtown Frankfurt, Germany (outdoors, all bars full). Using Apple's exclusive provider (T-Mobile) I normally achieve around 1.4 Mbps outdoors and less than half of that indoors. It must be considered that Speedtest is transferring one big file, so latency does not have a huge effect loading a Web site with dozens of small files 2.34 Mbps is not in the cards.
post #34 of 86
I really fear a huge price increase for service. What would be better would be AT&T offering a discount to users with more than one device.

This highlights the thought that we are about to see a tablet device that will arrive around the time the new iPhone comes out.
post #35 of 86
When a million new iPhones come on-line in June, the AT&T network will like buckle and collapse and then more lawsuits claiming that Apple lied about increased network speeds or that iPhone hardware is faulty. I'm sure that AT&T won't be able to stay ahead of peak demand. I guess that's a major drawback of having only one carrier for such a popular handset. I'm sure AT&T is going to be pushed beyond all limits and Apple is going to be blamed for it. Any large city should be forced to have thousands of WiFi access points to cut down on overloading the 3G networks.
post #36 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmt007 View Post

I believe Apple is also working on a 3G enebled Macbook. That would use up a lot a bandwidth.
J.

That is a logical progression although it may come in a tablet form (and not a tablet like any tablet that went before it). But yes, a MacBook also with built in 3G option seems an obvious step for next round of upgrades. Tethering would be clumsy compared to this and more revenue to Apple as a reason to buy new MacBooks.

Why not an external USB2 dongle for existing MacBooks too?
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post #37 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

When a million new iPhones come on-line in June, the AT&T network will like buckle and collapse and then more lawsuits claiming that Apple lied about increased network speeds or that iPhone hardware is faulty. I'm sure that AT&T won't be able to stay ahead of peak demand. I guess that's a major drawback of having only one carrier for such a popular handset. I'm sure AT&T is going to be pushed beyond all limits and Apple is going to be blamed for it. Any large city should be forced to have thousands of WiFi access points to cut down on overloading the 3G networks.

I think you have an overactive imagination.
post #38 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

Any large city should be forced to have thousands of WiFi access points to cut down on overloading the 3G networks.

LOL.

And who funds the enforcement of this new law?
post #39 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

My 3G got vastly better in the past few months, suddenly.

At first, I was reporting problems here with 3G dropouts, poor 3G reception, slow 3G reception. This was at my house.

Then it just got better overnight.

A couple of weeks later I read that they're moving 3G to 850 MHz, and it made sense.

Well, I certainly hope that AT&T is rolling out capacity and speed enhancements full speed.

However, I still think that AT&T believing that the new iPhone will drive a ten fold increase in data usage, and that they therefore are quickly moving to be able to provide that, doesn't really hang together as a narrative.

Now, if AT&T has foreseen this day for the last two years, and has been spending gobs of money and working night and day to be able to deliver this tremendous expansion of their service sometime this year, OK.

But the article implies that AT&T is specifically responding to whatever it is about the new iPhone that makes them think it will drive a huge increase in traffic, as if something like a 10x increase in a cell network's data capacity was just a matter of being diligent once you decide that's what you want to do, over a period of some months.

And that seems very hard to swallow.
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post #40 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Well, I certainly hope that AT&T is rolling out capacity and speed enhancements full speed.

However, I still think that AT&T believing that the new iPhone will drive a ten fold increase in data usage, and that they therefore are quickly moving to be able to provide that, doesn't really hang together as a narrative.

Now, if AT&T has foreseen this day for the last two years, and has been spending gobs of money and working night and day to be able to deliver this tremendous expansion of their service sometime this year, OK.

But the article implies that AT&T is specifically responding to whatever it is about the new iPhone that makes them think it will drive a huge increase in traffic, as if something like a 10x increase in a cell network's data capacity was just a matter of being diligent once you decide that's what you want to do, over a period of some months.

And that seems very hard to swallow.

They're buying a new generation of routers that didn't exist 6 month ago. I think AT&T had planed this for a while. But it's very expensive. Why do people forget that? It's going to cost them $10 billion to finish this latest rollout. Then they're going to do another.

And in addition, what do they have, 20 thousand or more towers that need upgrading?

I don't think they expect ten times the traffic overnight. But as all phones will get the 3.0 upgrade, and all the 3G's, which are the majority of phones out now will see major new services that weren't available before, along with expected strong sales of the newest models, I can see ten times the traffic over the next few months.

Don't forget that notifications alone will add a tremendous new amount of traffic that wasn't there before. The new MMS will also add a good deal to that traffic if people actually decide to use it with photos, something that also couldn't be done before. An MMS can now be well over ten thousand times larger because of photos. That would surely count to a ten times increase of network traffic way beyond its usage. In the USA last year, I read that a trillion messages were sent. How many from the iPhone, I don't know. But think of what will happen if people who were sending an SMS of an average size of 200 bytes now send MMS's with photos that average 500,000 bytes. If only 20% of people do that, the average SMS will have ballooned to 100,000 bytes.

So, yes, I definitely can see ten times the traffic.
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