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Slides accompanying AT&T Operations CEO John Stankey's speech.  (Source: Fiercemobilecontent.com)
HSPA+ by year's end, LTE to cover up to 75 million users by 2011

It appears that 4G wireless technology is slowly becoming a widespread reality in the U.S., with yesterday's announcement of Verizon LTE coming to 30 cities by year's end, and now, Fierce Wireless is reporting that AT&T plans to launch its own LTE network by mid-2011.

AT&T Operations CEO John Stankey announced the plans at a media and communications summit. Stankey said that AT&T is conducting trials of the 4G technology in Baltimore and Dallas, and that the company's primary LTE partners are Sony Ericsson and Acatel-Lucent.

AT&T has seemingly accelerated its LTE timetable. Earlier reports pinned technical trials to mid-2011, putting AT&T behind Verizon by nearly two years in terms of 4G rollout. Now, that number is more like six months. However, AT&T's LTE will cover, at most, 75 million users by the end of 2011, while Verizon will have 100 million covered in the next few months. Stankey said that the company's LTE deployment was different from the competitors', and that it "needs to carry forward its UMTS services to ensure that voice and data services can work simultaneously on both UMTS and LTE," Fierce Wireless reported.

In the beginning of the year, AT&T announced plans to spend a considerable chunk of change on upgrades to its current 3G network. Investor Place puts that number at around $8 billion for this year alone. Stankey mentioned some of these upgrades in his speech, adding that the nation's second-largest wireless carrier plans to launch HSPA+ by year's end. AT&T executives have said this will allow "real world download speeds of 7 Mbps." Meanwhile, the cell sites that have been upgraded to HSPA 7.2 will continue to upgrade backhaul.

HSPA+ has been a touchy topic for AT&T, ever since T-Mobile began rolling the upgraded technology out touting "4G-like" speeds. AT&T Mobility spokesperson Seth Bloom previously told us, "I think that companies need to be careful that they're not misleading customers by labeling HSPA+ as a 4G technology. We aren't labeling those technologies as 4G."

In his speech, Stankey admitted that he's "never satisfied" with his own company's network, upgrades to which he said have been impeded by shortages of parts from its vendors, totaling $300 million in backlogged network equipment.

At the Mobile Future Forward conference last week in Seattle, Fred Devereaux, president of AT&T's west region, also admitted to the carrier's network issues, TechFlash reports.

"We have a lot of work to do. I call it a success-based problem," Devereux said. "When you have 5,000 percent increases in anything -- whether that is traffic, customers, data usage -- you have a problem that the best engineers in the world will have trouble trying to figure out.

"Of the four major carriers in the U.S., we carry half of the mobile data traffic. So, we put a lot of cars on our freeway and we are trying to build bigger, faster freeways really fast."



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Here's hoping....
By quiksilvr on 9/17/2010 12:43:39 PM , Rating: 2
We can finally replace cable company ISPs with LTE. I've been waiting for that day for a long time.




RE: Here's hoping....
By HrilL on 9/17/2010 1:10:01 PM , Rating: 2
heh by the time LTE is standard everywhere docsis 3.0 will be standard and we'll likely be getting 50-100Mbps down and 10-30Mbps up from our cable companies. Plus latencies are way worse over wireless. I don't really see them competing for heavy data users but maybe for mom and pop web shopping and email users. Plus times are changing and online video is taking over. I see LTE as a supplement to wired infrastructure


RE: Here's hoping....
By MGSsancho on 9/17/2010 5:52:06 PM , Rating: 2
Speaking as someone who worked at an ISP that used DOCIS 2.0 gear, you can not simply replace your gear and magically everything works. im not just talking about replacing connectors either. most problems were due to horrible wiring in buildings that would cost millions to replace. sometimes there is a single 500 cable that feeds a neighborhood and the run is already long. That is partly why some people can only get 3mbps regardless of the fact that everyone has 2 million dollar homes Some places that have underground wiring can not replace their lines. The pipes are already full of phone and cable lines and there isn't room for more. You would have to pull out all the cables, then bundle 500 cable, 150 pair (phone) and a few bundles of fiber. this would help both phone companies and cable companies. but this would knock out service to entire neighborhoods and require corporation of all local telcos to get this done in a week if their lucky. Some places only have CAT1 cable or general cable. So VDSL2 does work, just lots of interference and limited performance.

These are only some of the technical reasons to poor performance. The others are political.


RE: Here's hoping....
By mcnabney on 9/17/2010 5:53:23 PM , Rating: 2
LTE latencies are impressive. I think Lucent is reporting pings down to 20-30ms. LTE brings three things - spectrum efficiency, connection capacity (speed), and very good packet latency.


RE: Here's hoping....
By mcnabney on 9/17/2010 5:51:32 PM , Rating: 2
No you won't.

Not even close.

LTE is much more efficient spectrum-wise than HSPA+ or EVDO-A, however it is still wireless and carriers have very, very little spectrum to work with.

Verizon is likely going to throw their entire 700mhz purchase in 2008 at LTE. That is 18mhz, coast to coast. What does that mean?

Under perfect conditions the antennas on the tower will be able to provide just under 400mbs of download for devices that it is supporting. Now 700mhz has amazing range, so I don't know how they will space their towers. Different distances in cities, suburbs, and rural areas, I am sure. However, lets be conservative and give a tower in the suburbs a 2 mile radius. So about 13-14 square miles of customers will need to share less than 400mb/s at best. At best that is 50 compressed HD video streams. Do you really think that is going to do it for 12 square miles of suburbia?

Contrast that with DOCSYS3 which has access of 1ghz of spectrum to each node. Things get full, split the node. Wireless will never be able to compete with wired for bullk data carriage. It will be fine for intermitant usage, but it simply cannot scale for full-time usage. A typical household might be watching/recording four HD streams right now. Heck, one city block or a small apartment building could max out a tower.


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