AT&T Announces HSPA 7.2 Upgrade Timeline, Revises LTE Plans

ImageAT&T has officially announced plans to upgrade its 3G network from the current HSPA 3.6 implementation to HSPA 7.2 by the end of 2011.

The upgrade will begin by doubling the amount of 850MHz spectrum now dedicated to its 3G network in most major cities, deploying 2,100 more cell sites across the country, deploying fiber backbone to many of its current cell sites to improve bandwidth and ease ccongestion, and the addition of microcells/femotcells for better indoor coverage.

AT&T will also add 20 more major cities and surrounding suburbs to the 350 cities it already covers with 3G service, while qualifying smartphone and 3G LaptopConnect plans now feature access to its 20,000 Wi-Fi hot spots around the U.S., with dynamic switching from 3G to Wi-Fi supported on certain devices.

More devices supporting the new network improvements will be launched later this year and next year.

AT&T has also confirmed its timeline for LTE, with trials now beginning next year instead of 2011 leading up to commercial deployment in the same year, which is three years earlier than previously stated.

Humberto Saabedra is the Editor-in-Chief of and an occasional columnist for He can also be found musing on things at @AnimeNewsdotbiz

9 responses to “AT&T Announces HSPA 7.2 Upgrade Timeline, Revises LTE Plans”

  1. CR

    Is att behind on technology again? 2011? Cmon. Verizon is doing it by 2010 and sprint has started this year. Cmon att keep up!

  2. Nz

    For latest info AT&T and carriers tech blast…….pls visit

  3. SaltyDawg

    Does LTE use a SIM card? Is Verizon going to go the SIM card route when they switch to LTE? If they open up their network and start allowing unlocked phones and what not, Verizon will probably the best carrier in a couple of years.

  4. Jeff

    Will existing devices be able to take advantage of this increase?

  5. Jim

    SIM cards on LTE: Yes, VZW (and presumably ATT) will use SIM cards, but indications are that they will be carrier-locked to their own networks.

    EXisting devices: If your HSPA radio is of he appropriate class (6,7, etc) then you can take advanage of the bandwidth upgrades. Cureently some radios only handle up to 3.6 Mbs, some can do 7.2. But as a practical matter, real world speeds will always be (MUCH) less than the class maximums.

  6. SaltyDawg

    So you will be able to start buying unlocked devices and just popping your SIM card in- on Verizon? And this as soon as next year?

    On that radio class- will the 7.2 HSPA devices work on LTE? If so, then I could use an unlocked AT&T Tilt (I think it can do 7.2 HSPA) on Verizon as soon as next year?

    Wow, there is not going to be much of a reason to go with AT&T once Verizon starts using SIM cards. Verizon already has the largest mobile to mobile, the largest coverage area, the largest 3G coverage area, and their prices aren’t any more than AT&T.

    AT&T better do something quick or they will be forced to become a low cost bargain carrier (like T-Mobile and Sprint) as soon as next year.

  7. Christopher Price

    SaltyDawg, we don’t know. Based on Verizon’s statements that their SIM cards will be proprietary, it is very questionable at this point if devices will be cross-compatible.

    It may very well be that LTE will mark the point that carriers utilize different SIM cards as a new form of subsidy lock. So, while everyone claims that their network is “open” a device maker would still have to release different versions of each device, that makes it compatible with each network’s SIM card.

    With WiMAX, support seems to be around the concept of using MEIDs to classify devices. That still requires the carrier to activate a foreign device, but does not require a specific carrier SIM be inserted.

    In addition, it is not clear if LTE will support a “uSIM” that would be carrier-independent. If so, it would be possible that carriers would offer a “SIM for unlocked devices” thus enabling device manufacturers to ship unbranded phones. A customer would simply need to trade in their AT&T or Verizon SIM for a AT&T or Verizon uSIM… and then insert that into an unbranded phone.

    All this appears to revolve around carrier interest in keeping the subsidy model alive, in light of the FCC’s intention to force carrier to take their phones from one network to the next, after their contract expires (or, when they pay the early termination fee).

  8. nmjamrock

    How many cell sites does AT&T have in total?

  9. Pepe

    No, an unlocked Tilt won’t work on Verizon’s network. It’s not as simple as LTE being backwards compatible with HSDPA/HSPA. Not to mention they don’t (yet) have intentions of letting in handsets they have no control over.