AT&T Says It's Ready for Wireless Growth

LAS VEGAS -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) says its network is up to the task of handling the explosive growth of 3G-connected smartphones, as well as a growing category of "emerging devices" such as Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN)'s Kindle and a growing assortment of GPS devices, netbooks, and tablet computers.

The topic was the elephant in the room here at the company's mobile developers' conference, where AT&T announced support for the Android operating system, saying it would be the first network to exclusively support Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL)'s upcoming smartphone. (See AT&T: Five Androids in 2010.)

The carrier has taken its lumps over the years for having poor performance when the iPhone overwhelmed its network. (See AT&T CTO: We Know What's Best for You.)

But now the carrier says it's improving, and will be ready in the future as it pushes to get more apps to more consumers on more devices.

In part, AT&T's executives say, the company's investment in better backhaul connectivity and radio network upgrades are helping it lay the groundwork for its upcoming shift to a Long Term Evolution (LTE) network.

AT&T's CTO John Donovan said today that the carrier:

  • Added some 2,000 cell sites in 2009
  • Added more than 100,000 backhaul circuits to help alleviate network congestion
  • Doubled the number of fiber-served cell sites in 2009 and beefed up backhaul with more Ethernet connectivity
  • Completed the HSPA 7.2-Mbit/s upgrades throughout the whole network, setting the table for future upgrades to LTE technology

"We expect that the majority of our mobile data traffic will be carried on fiber-based backhaul by the end of 2010," Donovan said.

With regard to LTE, Donovan said AT&T is "going to hit the sweet spot in terms of worldwide subscriber growth and device availability. Our backhaul will be upgraded and ready."

Wired for wireless growth
To enable more IP applications and traffic, AT&T is aggressively building out its wired network, which boasts the "world's largest deployment of 40-Gig backbone technology," boasted Donovan.

"We're deploying a high-performance IMS-based platform that binds our access networks together, enabling the seamless sharing of information between networks, between applications, and between devices heretofore not done across our many franchises."

Indeed, a beefed-up mobile network isn't the only thing that matters when a service provider wants to extend a positive experience to all the other services in a consumer bundle.

Donovan added: "As everything moves to IP, we're delivering an all-IP network that can seamlessly hand off information between wired and wireless connections with greater capacity, resiliency, and reach. We'll see more and more applications that work across devices and across networks."

— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

macemoneta 12/5/2012 | 4:45:11 PM
re: AT&T Says It's Ready for Wireless Growth

<li>Added some 2,000 cell sites in 2009

<li>Added more than 100,000 backhaul circuits to help alleviate network congestion

When did backhaul stop being a bad thing?</li>

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:45:10 PM
re: AT&T Says It's Ready for Wireless Growth

Re: When did backhaul stop being a bad thing.

Well,&nbsp; good vs. bad probably depends upon perspective.&nbsp; But from what I can tell the game changer was special access deregulation in 1999.&nbsp; After that every network provider (particularly the ones investing in wireless that weren't also an ILEC) was pretty much screwed. &nbsp; A decade later the theoritical competition that the FCC said existed and was the reason for deregulating has proven to be b.s.&nbsp; All one has to do is look at how the industry consolidated behind the ILECs (of whose infrastructure is the true natural monopoly) to see this as likely what really happened.&nbsp;

So it's been good for SBC and VZ.&nbsp;&nbsp; (AT&amp;T is long gone despite SBC hijacking the old MA Bell name, so don't be fooled by that)&nbsp; Probably bad for everyone else.


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