AT&T Upgrades NYC Mobile Network - InformationWeek

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AT&T Upgrades NYC Mobile Network

Increases in its 3G network wireless capacity should bring improved service, fewer dropped calls to New York iPhone and other smartphone users, said the telecom.

AT&T said Monday that improvements to its service in the New York City area -- where dropped calls are particularly frequent among iPhone users -- should bring improved services to its mobile phone users, particularly during peak hours. Metropolitan New York and San Francisco have been cited for dropped iPhone calls in recent months.

The telecommunications company said also that internal data revealed that AT&T's national 3G average data download speeds have increased 25% in the past year.

The company noted that its network grew more than 5,000% from 2007 to 2009, primarily because of the growing popularity of smartphones. Like all of the major mobile phone network providers, AT&T claims its network is the fastest in the nation.

AT&T said it has increased the wireless capacity of its 3G network in Manhattan and surrounding areas by adding new carrier frequency layers. In the city proper, AT&T has added a new layer of 850-MHz spectrum that improves coverage and beefs up in-building coverage.

The company also introduced metered data plans earlier this month, before the introduction of the iPhone 4, to trim excessive data use by iPhone users. Other carriers have indicated they will likely impose metered data plans in the future as spectrum for all carriers runs out.

"Our goal is pretty simple: in the city that never sleeps, we're working 24/7 to make sure our customers have a great experience every time they make a call, check e-mail, download a song or video, or surf the Internet on their AT&T device," said AT&T's Tom DeVito in a statement. DeVito is VP and general manager for AT&T in N.Y. and N.J.

Asked Monday morning whether she had experienced any change in her iPhone service, one Brooklyn resident who works in New York said she hadn't, but that she wouldn't be likely to give up her iPhone even if the frequency of dropped calls continues.

Last month, AT&T launched a "pilot deployment" in Times Square of a Wi-Fi hotzone in a test to determine whether Wi-Fi zones will help relieve the pressure on its mobile network. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has warned of a coming "spectrum crisis" as more and more smartphones gobble up space on the country's mobile phone networks.

In addition to Wi-Fi usage, the FCC has suggested that femtocells and improved placement of cell phone towers will relieve some of the pressure on networks. AT&T has been particularly hard hit, because it has been a victim of its marketing success with the popular iPhone.

AT&T said it has been deploying high-speed packet access (HSPA) 7.2 in an effort to improve throughput of its network. Faster 3G speeds will debut later this year and next year on a market-by-market basis. The latest HSPA+ generation is scheduled for an upgrade later this yet.

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