AT&T’s been under some heavy fire from rival carriers and iPhone customers alike. On one side, the carrier is dealing with Verizon’s onslaught of TV commercials that point out AT&T’s spotty 3G coverage maps. On the other side, AT&T is feeling the heat from iPhone customers in SF and NYC who are complaining about service problems. Then you have naysayers implying that AT&T is spending less on its wireless infrastructure as they rake in revenue from data-hungry iPhone users. To help clear their name, AT&T has issued a statement that points out the carrier’s network improvement efforts throughout 2009.
Turns out, AT&T spent $17-$18 billion in 2009 to improve its wireline and wireless networks. It’s not clear how much of that money went into wireless infrastructure expenses, but AT&T says they invested “billions” into their wireless business. All that investment helped to “nearly” double AT&T’s wireless spectrum, adding more of the valuable 850Mhz spectrum, adding 2,000 new cell sites, and adding 100,000 new backhaul connections.
This is a portion of AT&T’s statement:
Here’s a look at how we’re spending what’s expected to be between $17 and $18 billion in improvements in 2009 to our wireline and wireless networks, with billions on wireless:
- We are nearly doubling the wireless spectrum serving 3G customers in hundreds of markets across the country, using high-quality 850 MHz spectrum. This additional spectrum expands overall network capacity and improves in-building reception.
- We are adding about 2,000 new cell sites to our network in 2009, expanding service to new cities and improving coverage in other areas.
- We’re adding about 100,000 new backhaul connections, which add critical capacity between cell sites and the global IP backbone network.
- We’re enabling widespread access to our Wi-Fi network – the largest in the country with more than 20,000 hotspots in all 50 states – allowing customers to take advantage of the best available AT&T mobile broadband connection.
- We’re rolling out even faster 3G speeds with deployment of HSPA 7.2 technology and are preparing for field trials of next generation, LTE wireless networks next year, with deployment planning to begin in 2011. This schedule aligns with industry expectations for when a wide variety of compatible 4G wireless devices should be available.
Unfortunately, press releases and spending reports aren’t going to help change public perception of AT&T’s network. Even with billions spent on wireless improvements, AT&T’s service is still lacking in areas like San Francisco and New York – which is the only thing that matters to consumers. Here’s to hoping 2010 is a better year for the No. 2 (by subscriber count) US wireless carrier.