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3G/HSPA

4G World: AT&T to Go to 21Mbit/s HSPA+ in 2011?

CHICAGO -- 4G World -- Everyone knows that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is planning to move to Long Term Evolution (LTE) next year, but is the operator also planning a further upgrade of its 3G network in 2011?

In his keynote here on Tuesday, David Haight, VP of business development at AT&T's Emerging Devices Organization, said that if users roam off LTE, they would go to faster 3G in 2011. "The good news is that you're going to fall back to HSPA+, so you're falling back to 21 megabits, not 7.2 or 3.6," Haight told the crowd. (See 4G World: AT&T Learns Lessons From iPad.)

So far, AT&T has only said that it will deploy the earlier 14.4Mbit/s upgrade by the end of this year, revealing nothing about a 21Mbit/s upgrade in 2011. So we asked AT&T what the official word on this was.

"HSPA+ technology has a theoretical maximum speed of 21Mbps," a spokeswoman said, in an email reply to questions. "We have not begun deploying the technology at this time." (See AT&T Plots Widescale HSPA+ Rollout .) Nonetheless, if AT&T is interested in keeping up with GSM rival T-Mobile then HSPA+ is a logical progression. T-Mobile is currently rolling out a 21Mbit/s upgrade for 100 cities by year's end; it currently has the speed boost running in 65 cities in the US.

The average download speeds offered on 21Mbit/s HSPA+ are in the 5 to 8 Mbit/s range. (See T-Mobile's HSPA+ Rivals Clearwire, US LTE Speeds.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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