AT&T Plots Widescale HSPA+ Rollout

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is now planning to get another performance bump out of its 3G network before it begins deploying Long Term Evolution (LTE) in 2011.

AT&T's operations chief John Stankey says that AT&T will now upgrade some of its 3G network to support maximum download speeds of 14.4 Mbit/s, doubling the fastest rates currently offered on its network. The High-Speed Packet Plus (HSPA+) upgrade will cover 250 million people in the fourth quarter, Stankey said at a Reuters conference on Friday. (See AT&T to Boost 3G Speeds .)

AT&T had previously said that it would continue testing HSPA+ but expected to leapfrog the upgrade by moving to LTE in 2011. Light Reading Mobile will check to find out if the revised strategy will affect AT&T's LTE launch date plans. (See AT&T to Spend $2B More on Wireless in 2010.)

T-Mobile US Inc. is the only other major carrier in the US planning to deploy HSPA+. The carrier has said that it wants to cover 205 million people and 271 cities by the end of this year. (See T-Mobile Steps Up HSPA+ in Philly and MWC 2010: T-Mob's 3G Speed Race.)

Verizon Wireless , meanwhile, intends to have LTE available in up to 30 markets by the end of year. LTE offers peak download speeds, and Verizon has been showing off links of over 8 Mbit/s in recent tests in Boston.

Initially, the main advantage that HSPA+ will offer AT&T is a much wider choice of mobile devices using the technology than LTE can muster. Verizon is expected to launch LTE with modems and USB dongles for laptops, although it now tells Reuters that up to five handsets supporting the specification could be available by May 2011.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

nelson3748 12/5/2012 | 4:36:03 PM
re: AT&T Plots Widescale HSPA+ Rollout

last year AT&T announced that they were NOT deploying HSPA+ so they could go straight to LTE. not surprising that they are going to upgrade, instead of replace, all the 3G software they just bought, not to mention, how else are they going to service all those Ipads right now (yeah, i know, badly). it's like that quote by Woody on Cheers, "fool me three times..."

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:35:59 PM
re: AT&T Plots Widescale HSPA+ Rollout

Donovan blog on HSPA+



joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:35:56 PM
re: AT&T Plots Widescale HSPA+ Rollout

And before that the strategy seemed to be HSPA+ and then LTE much later (like 2013). They've definitely flip-flopped on this a couple of times. I wonder why? Availability of handsets or other gear maybe?

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:35:55 PM
re: AT&T Plots Widescale HSPA+ Rollout

No there's definitely been flip-flopping on when they would go LTE and whether they would use HSPA+ but AT&T always did try and keep its options open. You're right that they still need to spend money on more backhaul.

opticalwatcher 12/5/2012 | 4:35:55 PM
re: AT&T Plots Widescale HSPA+ Rollout

AT&T is an early adopter of high-data use devices on its network. Its experience with the iPhone and now the iPad shows it that the data congestion point isn't the radio, it is the backhaul network. It makes sense that this is where they'd put their money.

And money spent on an improved backhaul network is also money spent on an improved future LTE network, so maybe there isn't really any flip-flopping.

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 4:35:54 PM
re: AT&T Plots Widescale HSPA+ Rollout

It's incredible how fast AT&T has grown an HSPA subscriber base. Much bigger than anything in Europe. I'd guess only DoCoMo in Japan is close.


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