AT&T Mobility is in the process of switching on 3G services in 850 MHz spectrum in select markets across the country. The spectrum was freed up by the carrier's TDMA network shutdown, completed last year.
According to various media reports, AT&T is turning on 3G services over 850 MHz airwaves in San Francisco, New York City and Atlanta. The move is intended to improve coverage and capacity due to the propagation characteristics of 850 MHz spectrum; much of AT&T's 3G services run over 1900 MHz, a higher frequency that is less likely to penetrate buildings and other objects.
The 850 MHz band "is excellent spectrum because it propagates the signal much better," AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told PC Magazine. "When we deploy it, people really notice significant improvements."
Siegel did not immediately return requests for specifics, including which markets are involved in the "3G at 850" upgrade, how much the effort will cost and what vendors are involved.
Interestingly, AT&T was a big spender during the FCC's recent 700 MHz auction--airwaves also lauded for superior propagation characteristics--snapping up spectrum across the country totaling almost $7 billion.
However, the action at 850 MHz is only part of AT&T's wireless network efforts: The carrier is in the midst of upgrading its network to HSPA technology, supporting 7.2 Mbps speeds, with an eye toward LTE. AT&T plans to spend up to $18 billion on its wireless and wireline networks this year.
AT&T shutting down TDMA network
AT&T invests in HSPA upgrades ahead of LTE
AT&T to invest more than $17B in 2009, expand 3G network
AT&T adds 2.1M subs; wireless revenue up