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AT&T Upgrades HSPA to Support 7.2Mbps Download Speeds

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USA based AT&T has announced the completion of a software upgrade on its 3G cell sites to support HSPA download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. Faster 3G speeds will come as AT&T combines the new technology with enhanced cell site backhaul connections over the course of 2010 and 2011.

AT&T is in the midst of this second initiative to dramatically increase the number of high-speed backhaul connections to cell sites, primarily with fiber-optic connections, adding capacity from cell sites to the AT&T backbone network. Initial deployment of backhaul is already underway in the six U.S. cities announced in 2009 as initial HSPA 7.2 markets - Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami, with capabilities being turned up on a site-by-site basis beginning last month. Further backhaul deployment will continue in these markets and begin in additional markets across the nation.

The operator said that it anticipates that the majority of its mobile data traffic will be carried over the expanded fiber-based backhaul by the end of this year, with deployment continuing to expand in 2011.

"We are focused on providing our customers with the industry's best combination of mobile broadband speed, performance, coverage and available devices," said John Stankey, president and CEO, AT&T Operations, who announced the network updates at the Citigroup 20th Annual Global Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference. "As we light up new backhaul connections across the country, we're able to deliver a meaningful 3G speed boost for millions of customers who are already using HSPA 7.2-compatible devices. At the same time, we're also looking to the future with these backhaul enhancements, which will support our move to next-generation LTE technology starting in 2011."

The backhaul upgrades are also a key step in the evolution toward next-generation LTE mobile broadband technology. AT&T is designing its new backhaul deployments to accommodate both faster 3G and future LTE deployments. AT&T currently plans to begin trials of LTE technology this year, and to begin LTE deployment in 2011, matching industry time lines for widespread availability of compelling devices and supporting network equipment.

"Even as we look forward to LTE, 3G will be the predominant mobile broadband network technology worldwide for smartphones for the next few years," said Stankey. "AT&T's strategy will deliver faster 3G speeds over the next two years, while also allowing us to build the foundation for the LTE future."

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Tags: at&t  hspa  backhaul  lte  coverage