AT&T confirms ongoing upgrades to double 3G network speeds

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
An AT&T executive has confirmed in a new interview that the US iPhone service provider is currently performing a variety of upgrades on its 3G network that should combine to double capacity in the coming months.



AT&T Mobility vice president of technology realization Scott McElroy tells TelephonyOnline that his team plans to upgrade "the downlink capacity on its high-speed packet access (HSPA) from 3.6 megabits per second to 7.2 Mb/s through software upgrades at the base station."



Although McElroy doesn't provide a timetable for completing the upgrade, he says the carrier is in the process of field certifying the faster network in two test markets, adding that AT&T plans to eventually migrate its 3G networks to evolved-HSPA (or HSPA+), which would increase top speeds threefold.



AT&T could then theoretically upgrade its HSPA network to 14.4 Mb/s but is expected to forgo that option due to a technical problem and its ability to migrate directly to 21 Mb/s HSPA+, McElroy said. He told TelephonyOnline that AT&T will focus "on upgrades to the baseband, which will dramatically increase capacity without having to fiddle with the elements on the tower or in the core."



Interestingly, McElroy also noted that AT&T is simultaneously upgrading its network backbone to handle the increased data traffic resulting from its network upgrades, confirming an AppleInsider report from earlier this month. However, he refused to reveal the exact extent of those upgrades.



It was reported on April 3rd that AT&T was 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.



AppleInsider noted that the network rollout was tied 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. Apple has reportedly been evaluating a portion of the network upgrade already accessible to its engineers for testing purposes and is said to be genuinely impressed, with one engineer telling AT&T reps that the iPhone maker has "never gotten pages to load as fast as they were loading on the new routers."



People familiar with the matter say Apple has 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. The Cupertino-based company's third-generation iPhone is expected to be unveiled a few weeks later.



Meanwhile, McElroy says AT&T is also looking further ahead, selecting vendors for its 4G (or long-term evolution (LTE)) network expected to go live in test markets by 2010 ahead of widespread commercial availability the following year.



The carrier will reportedly use both its 700 MHz and advanced wireless services (AWS) spectrum to facilitate the LTE launch, with other spectrums on reserve should 4G usage take off. It could also repurpose its 2G and 3G channels for LTE once users begin migrating off those channels to the 4th-gen network.



"We feel very good about our spectrum position," McElroy said. "And we say that with full understanding of what the data demands will be."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51
    hiimamachiimamac Posts: 584member
    Good.



    Let's hope the thought of verizin releasing an iPhone causes the price rates/data plans to to down.
  • Reply 2 of 51
    panolopanolo Posts: 3member
    If AT&T doesn't improve service in rural or "fringe" areas I will be back with Verizon and their G4.
  • Reply 3 of 51
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    They certainly need to post a major upgrade with all the myriad of 3G phones they been pushing lately non-stop on TV. I hope NYC finally gets up to snuff.
  • Reply 4 of 51
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Panolo View Post


    If AT&T doesn't improve service in rural or "fringe" areas I will be back with Verizon and their G4.



    Never switch your carrier for the phone only- no matter how amazing it may be. If the carrier's signals suck eggs- what difference does it matter?
  • Reply 5 of 51
    galleygalley Posts: 971member
    That appears to be just a tad bit faster than the 50Kbps I'm getting on EDGE.
  • Reply 6 of 51
    I use to never have any problems with AT&T who I have had for 5 years now. The stunts they're pulled since I've had my iphone(3G last August) though just make me cringe.



    I had a Palm Treo 650 with Edge which I paid $20/mth for data. With the iphone it's $30 whether you have Edge or 3g. I was told that 3g was being tested and has been seen online once in awhile...nothing since I've had my iphone 3G. I live near Champaign, IL, home to the University of Illinois and NCSA and the area has often been referred to as the midwest silicon valley yet no 3g service.



    Since January or so I've had more problems with AT&T than any other time in the last 5 years. Lost data connections in certain areas on my way to work for 3 days straight at times. Calls that I never received and automatically drops the caller into my voicemail which I then don't get for at least 20 min to an hour after they made the call. I really appreciated this(not) when I was waiting to hear back from my doctor and a half hour after they had left for the day, I got a voice mail to call them back.



    Now they're worried about faster speeds somewhere else...great, just great! I understand why Apple went with AT&T...it's a worldwide standard. LTE can't get here soon enough to help level the playing field with a more common standard between carriers so that hopefully we have a better choice.
  • Reply 7 of 51
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Galley View Post


    That appears to be just a tad bit faster than the 50Kbps I'm getting on EDGE.



    People need to remember that while the article title talks about increased "speed," that what we are actually talking about here is increased capacity for higher speeds. This is not the same thing at all.



    The infrastructure improvements will allow for hypothetical increases of speed in areas where the infrastructure is all new and where the usage is moderate or low. It will still throttle back in high traffic areas, and it will still be spotty or non-existent in more remote areas.



    While the potential for higher speeds across the network is increased overall, the congestion problems of cities, and the connection problems of rural areas will remain what they are. A new radio technology with a larger coverage area per antenna is the only thing that will significantly counter those problems.
  • Reply 8 of 51
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Never switch your carrier for the phone only- no matter how amazing it may be. If the carrier's signals suck eggs- what difference does it matter?



    And there's an iPod Touch out there waiting for those who can't get AT&T coverage! It's not always-on Internet, but it IS the same great pocket computer. With no data cost.
  • Reply 9 of 51
    dhkostadhkosta Posts: 150member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    And there's an iPod Touch out there waiting for those who can't get AT&T coverage! It's not always-on Internet, but it IS the same great pocket computer. With no data cost.



    Technically, it's a better great pocket computer.
  • Reply 10 of 51
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Why would that happen? Verizon doesn't charge any less than AT&T.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hiimamac View Post


    Good.



    Let's hope the thought of verizin releasing an iPhone causes the price rates/data plans to to down.



  • Reply 11 of 51
    They are by far the worst carrier I've ever had. There have been so many times that I've dropped calls and had complete outages that I stopped counting. Every time I call in they have me go swap out my iPhone with another one (I'm on #3 now and probably headed to #4 very soon) and I still have the same issues with dropped calls.



    I've been told repeatedly that if I want more reliable service I should switch to Edge. I'm sorry, I pay plenty for my 3G service and it should be available to me. Oh, and BTW, I live 3 blocks from downtown Dallas TX so it's not like I'm off in a "fringe" area.



    I will be so happy when Apple finally leaves AT&T for good. As I've said for a while now they need to change their slogan to "AT&T", no bars in more places!" With AT&T as the carrier I describe my iPhone as being "the best phone I've ever owned at everything but being a phone."
  • Reply 12 of 51
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nimbusthegreat View Post


    They are by far the worst carrier I've ever had. There have been so many times that I've dropped calls and had complete outages that I stopped counting. Every time I call in they have me go swap out my iPhone with another one (I'm on #3 now and probably headed to #4 very soon) and I still have the same issues with dropped calls.



    I've been told repeatedly that if I want more reliable service I should switch to Edge. I'm sorry, I pay plenty for my 3G service and it should be available to me. Oh, and BTW, I live 3 blocks from downtown Dallas TX so it's not like I'm off in a "fringe" area.



    I will be so happy when Apple finally leaves AT&T for good. As I've said for a while now they need to change their slogan to "AT&T", no bars in more places!" With AT&T as the carrier I describe my iPhone as being "the best phone I've ever owned at everything but being a phone."



    Exactly, screw the speed upgrades.. They should be spending all their resources on expanding their 3G network and improving coverage in existing 3G areas... Verizon still blows them away in suburban and rural areas, particularly in the west.
  • Reply 13 of 51
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,432member
    I hope they're also expanding their 3G coverage? Many people are still stuck using the EDGE network. And no, before anyone says it, I'm not going to move just so I can get 3G speeds. This is whats kind of holding me back on getting an iPhone 3G (or the 3rd gen iPhone). AT&T is going to make me pay for something I cannot get.



    They're coverage in general is a little spotty for some such as myself. There are important places I get no signal so I had to have my work get me a verizon phone. It sucks I cannot use my iPhone for work purposes.
  • Reply 14 of 51
    poochpooch Posts: 768member
    all this talk of 4G is no different than when i told debbie i could get my older brother's souped up car to take her to the prom. it was just to make sure she went to the prom with me; it wasn't until years later that he actually would let me borrow the car.



    in 2000 and 2001 there was plenty of talk about 3G networks being right around the corner. and it's only been the last couple of years that any of that has begun to materialize in any significant fashion. so get your 3G networks up to snuff and make me happy, then you can woo me with the potential for a 4G network.



    sorry, debbie.
  • Reply 15 of 51
    ajitmdajitmd Posts: 365member
    I like the features of the iPhone, but the terms that ATT are offering are onerous. The voice plan is much more expensive than Sprint, especially if I go over the plan minutes when they charge 40+ cents/min. The data plan is expensive considering how slow the network is in my area. Not that Sprint is great, but they are dirt cheap.



    Anyway, I am taking control over my telecom costs. I bought an iPod Touch. I am going to install Skype, and other SIP VoIP software. Since I got WiFi at home, work, coffee shops, etc... I can make phone calls and have access to data. I even wonder why I need the cellphone... I did fine in the pay phone days.



    If I had WiMax in my area, I would ditch the land line, internet and cellphone. Dump cable TV and go back to regular antenna. I have read that in my countries WiMax is being implemented successfully and costs $10/mo for unlimited use.
  • Reply 16 of 51
    Perhaps AT&T is feeling pressure by Verizon, who's lobbying Apple to allow it to carry the iPhone.



    The ten-fold increase in capacity is very interesting. I have a feeling this means the iPhone will have video chat capabilities in the next version, which would be awesome.



    I just hope AT&T doesn't raise it's iPhone pricing plans further, as they are already the most expensive plans for any phone.
  • Reply 17 of 51
    tomkarltomkarl Posts: 236member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post




    ?



    I did fine in the pay phone days.



    ?






    What is this "pay phone" you speak of?



  • Reply 18 of 51
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    It can be argued that AT&T is more in direct competition with Verizon than with Sprint. AT&T and Verizon are the two fastest growing carriers. Sprint is loosing just over half a million subscribers every quarter, Sprint is fighting to stay alive.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post


    I like the features of the iPhone, but the terms that ATT are offering are onerous. The voice plan is much more expensive than Sprint, especially if I go over the plan minutes when they charge 40+ cents/min. The data plan is expensive considering how slow the network is in my area. Not that Sprint is great, but they are dirt cheap.



  • Reply 19 of 51
    lafelafe Posts: 252member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Galley View Post


    That appears to be just a tad bit faster than the 50Kbps I'm getting on EDGE.



    Me too. I'm crying as I read this article. Improve and upgrade for those who already have 3G service, while the rest of us "fringies" (and some in fairly large cities, even) are left behind in the mid-1990s.



    C'mon, AT&T!



  • Reply 20 of 51
    dimmokdimmok Posts: 359member
    Im not lucky enough to live in a city deemed 3G ready....still stuck using the Edge....and now I read this.



    Daddy's Pissed.



    Brothers and sisters....Brothers and sisters.....I dont know what this world is coming too....
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