AT&T takes wraps off wireless data network

AT&T Logo
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

AT&T announces 5 cities for faster wireless data

©2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Citation: AT&T takes wraps off wireless data network (2011, September 16) retrieved 27 September 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2011-09-att-wireless-network.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors