AT&T hurrying massive network update for new iPhone launch

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 85
    nofeernofeer Posts: 2,422member
    that's for new contracts right???

    and i guess it confirms upgraded radio chip in new iphone
  • Reply 2 of 85
    cu10cu10 Posts: 294member
    Clout, iPhone has.
  • Reply 3 of 85
    boss1boss1 Posts: 40member
    incoming iPhone XL / tablet imo
  • Reply 4 of 85
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    I hope it's more than a patch here, a patch there- what they're known for.
  • Reply 5 of 85
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,664member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 85
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 85
    slapppyslapppy Posts: 331member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 85
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    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.



    Video.
  • Reply 9 of 85
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    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
  • Reply 10 of 85
    taskisstaskiss Posts: 1,212member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 85
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    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?
  • Reply 12 of 85
    user_23user_23 Posts: 46member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kasper View Post


    Video.



    Video + tethering.



    And, competition.
  • Reply 13 of 85
    galleygalley Posts: 971member
    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?
  • Reply 14 of 85
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by user_23 View Post


    Video + tethering.



    And, competition.



    And that would include upgrading their reputation. We shall see.
  • Reply 15 of 85
    postulantpostulant Posts: 1,272member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 85
    l008coml008com Posts: 163member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 85
    filburtfilburt Posts: 398member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 85
    "Apple has reportedly set a strict deadline that asks..."



    LOL. Asks?
  • Reply 19 of 85
    jmt007jmt007 Posts: 2member
    I believe Apple is also working on a 3G enebled Macbook. That would use up a lot a bandwidth.

    J.
  • Reply 20 of 85
    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.
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