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AT&T: new 3G gear to be upgradable to 4G

updated 08:05 am EST, Wed February 10, 2010

AT&T says 2010 3G can move to LTE quickly

AT&T today shined extra light on its plans to move to 4G. As part of an extended deal with Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson to upgrade its network, every 3G cell site upgrade in 2010 will also be upgradable to the much faster Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard for 4G, whether it requires add-on hardware, new software or both. The move will let AT&T switch on 4G in these areas more quickly than it could if it had to completely replace the site.

The carrier also reiterated its network upgrade plans for the next two years, which will involve adding 7.2Mbps HSPA-based 3G through 2011 as well as early rollouts of LTE. AT&T expects to test 4G in two areas this year and to formally launch the service in 2011, though it hasn't said how many cities will have 4G when it goes live.

LTE is expected to be crucial to AT&T as it not only promises nearly 14 times more theoretical speed at 100Mbps but to greatly ease many of the congestion issues on the network. The standard depend on an all-IP networking system that doesn't depend on traditional cellular infrastructure and should provide not just more headroom but an easier time upgrading services in the future.

Verizon is expected to be the first with a fully public LTE network in the US, launching later this year in about 25 regions, but will likely be limited at first to data-only modems instead of full-fledged smartphones.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. Fast iBook

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2003



    Very smart thinking.

    - A

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008


    Once Apple starts selling the iPad in quantity

    it'll probably suck up whatever is left of 3G. I'm somewhat surprised that the iPad doesn't have a firmware upgradeable chip for 4G, but I guess it doesn't make much sense since most areas probably won't get 4G until the next version iPad is announced and then consumers will have to buy a newer model to get 4G. Anyway, it's a good move on AT&T's part to at least try to stay ahead of the bandwidth curve.

  1. snork

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2008


    Good idea...

    but why not just activate the 4G upgrades now if it's going in with NEW 3G gear? If you're going through the trouble of spending manpower to upgrade cell towers now, why not just activate the 4G too to get a head start on deployment even if there's nothing to use it now?

  1. slapppy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2008


    Terrific but,

    don't forget to add more towers across the US. That way, Verizon can't continue to make AT&T look pathetic with their map vs map advertising.

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