AT&T upgrades cell sites to HSPA 7.2 software

Hot on the heels of T-Mobile USA's announcement that it upgraded its 3G footprint to HSPA 7.2, AT&T Mobility said it upgraded its own 3G cell sites across the country with HSPA 7.2 software. However, AT&T clarified that it is still working to deploy increased backhaul capacity to the sites, a job that it will continue into 2011.

AT&T said the software upgrade will "result in a better overall customer experience by generally improving consistency in accessing data sessions." AT&T has faced growing criticism that its network can't sufficiently handle users' increasing data demands, particularly users of Apple's iPhone. The company, which has acknowledged it needs to improve its network in some areas such as New York City and San Francisco, was quick to point out that it still must add backhaul connections to fully enable HSPA 7.2 technology, which provides theoretical peak speeds of 7.2 Mbps.

The carrier said it has already deployed backhaul improvements in Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami. 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.

T-Mobile said yesterday that HSPA 7.2 network technology was now enabled across its entire 3G footprint. The company was less clear about its backhaul plans for the HSPA 7.2 deployment. "We are continuing to increase backhaul in-line with our network upgrades to support these faster speeds," a T-Mobile spokeswoman told FierceWireless.

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