AT&T takes wraps off wireless data network

Sep 16, 2011 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer
The AT&T logo is seen in 2010 in Washington DC. US telecom titan AT&T on Sunday will flip the switch on a high-speed "next-generation" network for smartphones and other wireless Internet gadgets in five cities.

Unbeknownst to most customers, AT&T Inc. has fired up a new wireless data network in five cities in the last few months, offering roughly double the speeds of its older network for a handful of devices.

On Sunday, the phone company will start marketing the network in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. It won't be selling a new data plan - use of the new "4G LTE" network will be a perk thrown in with existing plans, AT&T Inc. network architecture and planning executive Kris Rinne said Friday.

Rinne said the network will provide downloads speeds of 5 megabits to 12 megabits per second. That's enough to download a DVD-quality two-hour movie in 15 minutes. It's in line with the speeds on Verizon's LTE network, which launched late last year with separate data plans. AT&T's older "4G" network provides top download speeds around 6 megabits per second.

Upload speeds on the LTE network are also significantly higher than on regular "4G," clocking in at 2 megabits to 5 megabits per second, Rinne said. That's fast enough to send one minute of high-definition video from a tablet to Facebook in three minutes.

The LTE-capable devices AT&T sells are a tablet - the HTC Jetstream - two USB data sticks and a "mobile Wi-Fi hotspot." They're sold with the standard AT&T non-phone data plan, which provides 5 gigabytes of data for $50 per month, except for the tablet, which comes with a $35 plan with 3 gigabytes of data.

At top LTE download speeds, it takes about an hour to exhaust the monthly allotment of 5 gigabytes. Like Verizon, AT&T charges $10 per gigabyte used above that.

Rinne said the company will have an LTE-capable phone by the end of the year.

Analysts don't expect the next iPhone to be LTE-capable at its launch, which they think could be within a month. Apple Inc. and AT&T haven't said when the phone will launch or if it will be LTE-capable.

AT&T plans to light up the LTE network in ten more cities by the end of the year, but hasn't said which ones.

AT&T's LTE plans have figured in the company's bid to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion. AT&T says it originally planned to build out LTE to cover 80 percent of the U.S. population, but if regulators let it buy T-Mobile, it will upgrade cell sites in rural areas as well, to cover 97 percent of the population. AT&T has less radio spectrum available for LTE than Verizon does, so it wants to take some of the spectrum T-Mobile uses for 3G and convert it to LTE.

The initial five LTE cities are all areas in which AT&T is the landline phone company. That makes it easier for the company to provide the LTE-enabled cell towers with high-speed wired connections to the Internet. The company's headquarters is in Dallas, one of the launch cities.

Explore further: Scientists twist radio beams to send data: Transmissions reach speeds of 32 gigabits per second

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Skultch
not rated yet Sep 16, 2011
if regulators let it buy T-Mobile, it will upgrade cell sites in rural areas as well, to cover 97 percent of the population.


I might have to change my stance on the merger. I'll still probably be in that 3%, but I'll support the merger just in case I'm not. THAT'S how bad satellite internet sucks.
bhiestand
not rated yet Sep 17, 2011
I might have to change my stance on the merger. I'll still probably be in that 3%, but I'll support the merger just in case I'm not. THAT'S how bad satellite internet sucks.

Oh hell no. AT&T is a big part of the reason rural broadband is so terrible in the states. They refuse to provide broadband in many rural areas, then they sue municipalities that try to offer it. They (along with other providers) have been intentionally starving this market for years.

You don't need a merger to get the internet you want, you need the big providers to spend the billions the US govt already gave them on providing rural access. Or you need a municipal utility to provide it at cost.
Skultch
not rated yet Sep 19, 2011
Oh hell no. AT&T is a big part of the reason rural broadband is so terrible in the states. They refuse to provide broadband in many rural areas, then they sue municipalities that try to offer it. They (along with other providers) have been intentionally starving this market for years.


I'd really like to see some support for this. I work for a rural ISP, and know many others who work for rural ISPs. I don't know what you are talking about. Also, I can't blame any single company for not investing in rural bb, mostly because I'm unsure of any true obligations they have if they took federal money. AFAIK, at this point, there's just not enough of a market to justify. Oh well, I'll live with my slow internets and awesome views and limitless outdoor fun. :

You don't need a merger to get the internet you want, you need the big providers to spend the billions the US govt already gave them on providing rural access. Or you need a municipal utility to provide it at cost.
bhiestand
5 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2011
It's funny, I considered providing sources but decided against it because it's difficult to make them look good (and fit the character limits).

AT&T blocking municipal broadband: http://www.dslrep...r-106148 (links inside story)
Lawsuit with widespread impact, SCOTUS decides against municipal utilities: http://yro.slashd...y-Telcos
Here's a good overview of companies vs. municipal warfare, lawsuits: http://news.cnet....305.html

There are a lot of stories about this buried in various news archives. I remember reading them on a weekly basis from ~2003-2008, but it's still going on (NC just got curtailed in 2011). I don't have a statistical basis for this, but my memory was that AT&T was behind many of the lawsuits/legislation. They frequently introduced/lobbied for legislation to restrict it, then sued.
bhiestand
5 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2011
Finding sources for federal funds pre-Obama has been a lot more challenging. I'm afraid I'm unable to back that claim right now, but I do distinctly remember it. This was either late Clinton or early Bush. All of my searches are yielding only recent results.

I'll have to do some more searching later and see if i can find anything.
Skultch
5 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2011
I don't doubt what you describe is happening here and there; it's just not happening by me. AAMOF, a small Telco by me just built a new DSL and WiMAX network in my area. Unfortunately, I'm too far from the CO for DSL, and on the wrong side of the ridge for the wireless. I'm going to try an NPR mount and ~20 ft mast in hopes of getting some signal.

Your first two links contain unsubstantiated claims, btw. So far, it just looks like they're operating within the local/state laws, as corrupt as it may still be. I'm just not seeing any grand conspiracies that have direct relevance to the merger.