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AT&T to roll out 4G network

28 мая 2009

AT&T, the largest US telecommunications group, confirmed plans on Wednesday to deploy next generation LTE mobile broadband technology in 2011 and said that in the meantime it will upgrade its 3G HSPA mobile data service to boost download speeds.

The Dallas-based group said it will begin trials of the LTE technology next year. Mobile operators including AT&T hope that LTE will deliver desktop-like broadband data speeds to handsets and help fuel the growth of mobile internet services offsetting flat or declining revenues from traditional mobile voice services.

AT&T will be the second major US wireless network operator to upgrade its network to LTE – Verizon Wireless, the joint venture operator owned by Verizon Communications and Britain’s Vodafone group, plans to begin commercial LTE services in 30 markets next year.

The early move to LTE is designed to move Verizon Wireless from its current 3G technology to a 4G technology that it will share with most of the world’s major wireless operators including Vodafone and China Mobile.

In contrast AT&T decided to delay the deployment of LTE until the technology has been fully proven and volume manufacturing has driven network infrastructure and handset prices down. The deployment of HSPA 7.2 technology in the meantime is designed to enable AT&T to bridge the gap by accelerating current 3G download speeds.

Speaking at News Corp.’s AllThingsD conference in Carlsbad, California, Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, said that the theoretical speed of the new interim network would more than double the current wireless speed this year, though consumers will have to buy new handsets to take advantage of it.

The cost of AT&T’s network upgrades will be covered by the $17bn to $18bn in capital expenditures forecast for this year.

While the HSPA upgrade will theoretically double 3G speeds to 7.2Mbps (megabits per second) from 3.6Mbps, AT&T cautioned that actual network performance may be lower based on the phones customers use, traffic on the network and distance from cell sites that broadcast wireless signals.

John Donovan, AT&T’s chief technology officer, said that in addition to the planned speed upgrade, AT&T is enhancing its mobile broadband coverage by nearly doubling the wireless spectrum dedicated to 3G in most metropolitan areas to deliver stronger in-building reception and more overall network capacity.

The company will also add 20 metropolitan areas to its 3G network this year, expanding from 350 markets currently and build 2,100 new cell sites to improve coverage.

Источник: Financial Times

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