9:30 AM -- LAS VEGAS -- 2013 International CES -- As I'm heading into AT&T Inc.'s Developer Summit this morning, it's pretty astounding what has happened on the U.S. carrier's network in just the past two years.
At the 2011 developer meeting, AT&T executives said the company would complete its nationwide LTE network buildout by the end of 2013. During that meeting, the service provider noted it had extended its HSPA+ technology to cover "virtually 100%" of its nationwide network, delivering speeds around 6 Mbit/s. Upgraded wireless backhaul connections were also promised.
In 2012 the AT&T developer conference sizzled with the announcement that the wireless giant would soon welcome six new Android-powered phones on its LTE network. AT&T also touted its blended use of both LTE and HSPA+ technology to provide a speedy experience -- even to customers who did not have new LTE-enabled devices.
The coverage did get better and faster. And the network once exposed as weak by the popular iPhone is now as competitive as any other in coverage and speed. Wireless network-tester RootMetrics says that in Dallas, where AT&T has its headquarters, the average wireless speed on the operator's network has increased 10-fold, from 1.7 Mbit/s to 17.2 Mbit/s, between February 2011 and September 2012.
This year the AT&T Developer Summit is expected to have more than 2,500 attendees and the company will likely provide more LTE coverage updates, more new LTE-enabled devices, and more hooks for developers to be able to provide apps that take advantage of more network resources. It's also likely that AT&T will continue to tempt developers with additional ways to interact with its U-verse pay TV service.
Developers here say the conference is already off to a good start. AT&T is hosting developer hack-a-thons that don't require developers to write specifically to its network nor do they require use of custom AT&T APIs. It's nice when you host a party and let everyone bring their own music: That's not what we usually expect from the phone company.
— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading