updated 02:30 pm EDT, Thu April 3, 2008
ATT Finishing 3G Network
AT&T will complete building out its HSPA network for all of its 3G areas by the end of year and expects the iPhone to move into the 3G realm itself, according to statements by carrier officials. Network vice president Hank Kafka remarked that all the 255 areas that currently handle AT&T's normal 3G, or HSDPA, will be upgraded to the faster upload speeds of the full HSPA spec before the end of 2008. This will come on top of a larger 3G expansion that should offer at least HSDPA to as many as 350 areas.
HSPA improves the overall connection rate and allows up to 1.4Mbps downstream while boosting uploads as high as 800Kbps, enabling higher-quality two-way video calls and other features that require live streams.
Separately, company chief Ralph de la Vega has also confirmed the relatively near-term launch of a 3G-capable iPhone. The senior official commented that all of AT&T's "smart integrated devices" would support 3G within months; when asked if this included the iPhone, de la Vega largely repeated his statement, according to reports, implying that the iPhone would be included among the devices.
The CEO's statements emphasize statements made late last year by then-chief Randall Stephenson, who promised a 2008 release of a 3G-capable iPhone. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs also said an iPhone capable of faster Internet service was likely due in the later portion of 2008.
Whether the impending Apple handset will include HSPA or simpler HSDPA is unknown; at present, most HSPA access on AT&T is limited to PC data adapters. Few phones are confirmed for HSPA as of today, but will likely include Sony-Ericsson's upcoming XPERIA X1.