AT&T to Deploy HSPA 7.2 Network Ahead of Third Generation iPhone Launch

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Date: Thursday, May 28th, 2009, 09:13
Category: 3G Wireless, iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T has formally announced plans to deploy its 7.2 Mbps HSPA 7.2 network this year, the deployment supporting faster iPhone models expected for release this summer.
According to AppleInsider, AT&T has stated that the HSPA 7.2 upgrade will deliver theoretical peak speeds twice that of the company’s current 3G network. The company has stated that installation will continue through 2011 and that AT&T will begin trials of LTE (Long Term Evolution), with deployment of that technology to begin in 2011. LTE plans to eventually reach theoretical peak speeds of 20 Mbps.
Both HSPA and LTE are components of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of technologies, which include GSM/EDGE and UMTS, the worldwide “3G” service supported by the iPhone 3G.
Because AT&T’s network is currently based on 3GPP standards, the company can deliver the upgrade to HSPA 7.2 service immediately to support faster smartphones prior to the buildout of LTE, which isn’t expected to become widely available until at least 2011-2012.
AT&T has stated that its current 3G service is available in 350 major US metro areas, with deployment in another 20 planned this year. The company stated that its new HSPA 7.2 technology “will be deployed widely in the network, with the benefits of the network upgrade to be announced on a local basis as the faster speeds are turned up.”
The company also said it will introduce “multiple HSPA 7.2-compatible laptop cards and smartphones beginning later this year.” Apple is expected to release a new iPhone model in June that supports HSPA 7.2 service. In addition to having access to a faster network, the new iPhone model is expected to have a significantly faster processor, enabling it to better handle the data it can receive, resulting in faster overall operation.
Along with the upgrade to HSPA 7.2, AT&T also reported plans to build out other network improvements this year as part of a capital investment plan costing $17-18 billion.
Elements include:

  • Near-Doubling Radio Frequency Capacity: In 2008 and 2009 to date, high-quality 850 MHz spectrum has been deployed in more than half of AT&T’s 3G network footprint to improve overall coverage and in-building reception, with additional markets planned for later in the year.
  • More Bandwidth to Cell Sites: AT&T is adding fiber-optic connectivity and additional capacity to thousands of cell sites across the country this year, expanding the critical connections that deliver traffic from a cell site into the global IP backbone network. These upgrades will support the higher mobile broadband speeds enabled by both HSPA 7.2 and LTE.
  • More Cell Sites: Deployment of about 2,100 new cell sites across the country.
  • Wi-Fi Integration: Many AT&T smartphones will be able to switch seamlessly between 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. AT&T customers with qualifying smartphone and 3G LaptopConnect plans have access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network – more than 20,000 hotspots, including locations in all 50 states – at no additional charge. AT&T’s global Wi-Fi footprint covers more than 90,000 hotspots, and AT&T also can create permanent or temporary extended Wi-Fi zones in areas with high 3G network use, like a grouping of hotels or a festival.
  • MicroCells: Customer trials leading toward general availability of AT&T 3G MicroCell offerings, which utilize femtocells to enhance in-building wireless coverage.
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