AT&T to deploy LTE in 2011

AT&T Mobility will begin upgrading its HSPA network to allow for theoretical peak downlink speeds of 7.2 Mbps starting later this year, and expects to complete the work by 2011.

It has also brought forward its LTE rollout plan, testing to start in 2010 and deployment in 2011.

The carrier said it would double the amount of 850 MHz wireless spectrum used for its 3G network in most metropolitan areas, and will offer multiple HSPA 7.2 Mbps-compatible laptop cards and smartphones starting later this year.

In addition, it will add more cell sites - 2,100 across the United States - and increase bandwidth in its cell sites by adding fiber-optic connections between the sites and its IP backbone network.

The company also said it will begin trialling 3G microcell offerings, which use femtocells to enhance in-building wireless coverage.

All of these projects fit within AT&T's previously outlined capital expenditure plan of $17 billion to $18 billion for the year, AT&T said.

Despite the positive tone of the company's announcement - and the wide range of coverage the news is sure to get - AT&T did not provide a number of important specifics, including how many people and miles its upgrade will cover, what real-world speeds will be like, what vendors will deploy the upgrade, and how much it will cost.

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