AT&T gave Apple 'crash course' in wireless for iPhone

AT&T Mobility is racing to bolster its wireless network ahead of a possible loss of its exclusive rights to sell Apple's popular iPhone. As part of a wide-ranging plan to improve its services, company executives met last year with Apple to give iPhone designers a "crash course" in wireless networking, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

According to the WSJ, last year AT&T flew John Donovan, CTO, and John Stankey, the head of operations for AT&T, to California to meet with Apple designers to help them better understand wireless networking. As a result of that and subsequent meetings, Apple reconfigured how the iPhone works with AT&T's network, and now the phone more efficiently conducts standard tasks like finding the nearest cell tower and checking for text messages--thereby easing strain on the network.

"They're well past networking 101, 201 or 301," Donovan said of Apple, adding the firm is now "in a Master's class."

Further, AT&T initiated a 100-day program in December to boost its network, according to the WSJ, an effort that includes using new spectrum, repositioning antennas and improving backhaul. The company "is managing volumes that no one else has experienced," Donovan told the Journal. AT&T has improved its network in large metropolitan markets and expects "continued improvement in those markets in the coming months," he said.

Indeed, in January AT&T said it upgraded its 3G cell sites across the country with HSPA 7.2 software, though it said it is still working to upgrade backhaul capacity to the sites, a job that it will continue into 2011. AT&T said it expects the majority of its mobile data traffic to be carried over the expanded, fiber-based, HSPA 7.2-capable backhaul by the end of 2010, with deployment continuing to expand in 2011.

The WSJ Monday reported that AT&T is set to lose its exclusive grip on the iPhone later this year, and that Apple is prepping a CDMA version of the iPhone that could be headed to Verizon Wireless or other CDMA carriers.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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