AT&T invests in HSPA upgrades ahead of LTE

AT&T Mobility is doubling the capacity of its 3G HSPA networks to get the most out of its current infrastructure before investing in more advanced wireless technologies.

The nation's second largest wireless carrier is in the process of boosting HSPA download speeds from 3.6 Mbps to 7.2 Mbps through software upgrades in base stations, Scott McElroy, AT&T Mobility's vice president of technology realization, told Telephony. AT&T is testing the upgrades, and plans to expand them throughout its entire network. Further, later this year McElroy said the carrier will begin transitioning to HSPA+, which will triple downlink speeds to 21 Mbps. Not surprisingly, McElroy added that AT&T is in the process of upgrading its backhaul network, where possible, to meet the demands of increased data traffic.

AT&T has said it plans to deploy Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G technology in 2011.

Interestingly, HSPA equipment was not able to support the technology's full potential when it was first introduced. Thus, wireless carriers have had to upgrade their HSPA networks in stages, to account for the evolution of the technology.

When AT&T detailed its capital expenditures for 2009 in early March, it said it would spend $17 billion, part of which would be used for expanding and upgrading its 3G network. AT&T said some of the planned expansions and network improvements include nearly doubling the total network capacity in most markets by adding spectrum capacity at 850 MHz, trialing faster data speeds of eventually up to 20 Mbps and expanding the company's WiFi footprint.  

For more:
- see this Telephony article

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