AT&T Mobility will begin rolling out its HSPA network upgrade--which will provide theoretical peak downlink speeds of 7.2 Mbps--in six cities across the country. The first cities to get the upgrade will be Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami, with commercial availability by year-end.
The upgrade is part of the carrier's effort to milk its HSPA network as much as possible before transitioning to LTE technology. The company reiterated that it will begin testing LTE in 2010 with deployment beginning in 2011. Rival Verizon Wireless recently announced successful LTE tests in Boston and Seattle; the carrier plans commercial launches next year.
AT&T's HSPA announcement coincides with the carrier's acknowledgement that it is straining to keep pace with the rapidly growing demand for mobile data, largely fueled by Apple's iPhone.
By the end of 2010, AT&T said it will have deployed its HSPA upgrade in 25 of the country's 30 largest markets, and that the upgrade will be in place in 90 percent of its 3G footprint by the end of 2011. AT&T also said it would add backhaul capacity to its cell sites while it upgrades its HSPA technology, and that it would have six HSPA 7.2-compatible smartphones available by year-end, as well as two new LaptopConnect cards.
Separately, AT&T has begun switching on 3G services in 850 MHz spectrum in certain markets across the country to boost coverage and capacity, notably in Atlanta, New York City and Houston.
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