In the mobile world, if you’re standing still, you’re dead in the water. With their main rival Verizon Wireless already making moves to deploy its 4G LTE network in a couple years, AT&T has announced that it is finally getting ready to upgrade their 3G network for faster speeds. As expected, AT&T says that it will be upgrading its existing 3G network to HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) 7.2 technology, capable of a theoretical maximum of 7.2Mbps data speeds.
The move to boost data speeds on its current 3G network will help bridge the gap between AT&T’s already-aging 3G network and its planned 4G network, which will use LTE (Long Term Evolution) technologies to enable true wireless broadband data speeds. And, to help improve overall data network performance, AT&T is continuing deploy the 850Mhz spectrum for the 3G network, which will make for better indoor reception and improved overall coverage. Big Blue is also expanding the number of cell sites throughout the US, all the while upgrading existing cell sites with increased capacity to handle increased data-load.
Interestingly, AT&T’s press release mentions that it’s looking forward to “the higher mobile broadband speeds enabled by HSPA 7.2 and LTE.” There’s no mention of the HSPA Evolution (HSPA+) network upgrades the AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega mentioned previously.
The time and resources needed to rollout HSPA+ upgrades to AT&T’s 3G network may have spurred AT&T to go directly from its HSPA 7.2Mbps network to the 4G LTE spec. AT&T wouldn’t be alone in thinking that.
AT&T’s official stance on its future plans for HSPA+ and LTE is that HSPA 7.2 will likely “lead us directly from HSPA 7.2 to LTE.” HSPA Evolution is still an option, but it’s looking like AT&T might pass on HSPA+ and go straight to LTE.