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|Posté le: Jeu 23 Déc - 04:36 (2010) Sujet du message: The 411 on AT&T's 4G strategy
|AT&T took another step toward filling out its 4G wireless broadband strategy with the announcement yesterday that it plans to spend $1.9 billion to buy wireless spectrum from chipmaker Qualcomm.
The new spectrum will be used to help build the carrier's next generation LTE network. This is the same technology that Verizon Wireless is using to build its 4G network.
In some ways, AT&T may seem a little late to the 4G wireless party. Competitors Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile USA have already been touting their fourth generation networks.
Verizon just launched its service earlier this month. And Sprint has been offering 4G service using a technology called WiMax for more than two years. Even T-Mobile USA--the smallest of the major four national wireless operators--is claiming to offer 4G wireless. For the most part, AT&T has been quiet about its 4G plans.
But now the company is making nearly a $2 billion investment in the new network. To help shed some light on AT&T's 4G strategy and what consumers might expect, CNET put together this FAQ.
What is AT&T's strategy for 4G, and is it really lagging its competitors?
In terms of marketing, AT&T is definitely behind its competitors in getting its 4G message out. But in terms of technology, the company isn't really that far behind its competitors. It's just taking a slightly different route.
In short, AT&T has decided to upgrade its existing 3G network before it deploys LTE. This is the same strategy T-Mobile USA is taking as well. AT&T and T-Mobile are both GSM carriers, using HSPA 3G technology. HSPA 3G has an easier path toward LTE, so it makes sense for these carriers to invest in these networks as long as they can before building an LTE network. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel, which are CDMA-based carriers, use a 3G technology called EV-DO that doesn't have as clear an upgrade path to 4G. So this is why these carriers have decided to move to next-generation technologies. Verizon is using LTE, while Sprint is using WiMax.
What technology has AT&T already deployed?
In 2009,wow power leveling AT&T upgraded to HSPA 7.2 technology. This 3G technology provides a theoretical download speed of 7.2 Mbps. The company completed that upgrade and is now working to upgrade the network yet again with HSPA+ technology. The technology it is using can theoretically offer between 14 Mbps and 21 Mbps downloads.
In November, AT&T's CTO John Donovan said the company had completed 80 percent of its network upgrade to HSPA+. And now AT&T claims it offers this faster service to 250 million potential users.
Are there products that take advantage of these new faster speeds?
So far AT&T has introduced only USB modems that offer HSPA+ speeds. But there is a good chance the company will offer HSPA+ handsets early next year. T-Mobile, which touts its HSPA+ network as 4G, was the first carrier in the U.S. to launch HSPA+ phones in the U.S.: the G2 and myTouch 4G.
If LTE is the next evolution in AT&T's roadmap, how much faster will it be than HSPA+?
AT&T has not said how fast it expects the new service to be, nor has AT&T published its own estimates for actual speeds on its HSPA+ network. If you look at competitors using similar technologies, the actual speed of its HSPA+ is likely around 3Mbps to 7Mbps. Verizon, which is the only major U.S. carrier that has deployed LTE, is reporting average download speeds around 5Mbps to 12Mbps.
When is AT&T launching its LTE network?
The network is expected to launch commercially in mid-2011. AT&T is already testing the service in Dallas and Baltimore. The company has said it plans to cover 70 million to 75 million potential customers with the service by the end of 2011.
AT&Twow powerleveling plans to spnd $1.9 billion on new spectrum from Qualcomm. How will this new spectrum be used in building the LTE network?AT&T plans to use the spectrum as a supplement to the spectrum it's already using for 4G services. Specifically, it plans to use "carrier aggregation technology" to enable supplemental downlink capacity. Carrier aggregation technology has been discussed as a technique to be used in the next generation of LTE, known as LTE-Advanced. Using this technology, LTE Advanced could provide peak download speeds of 1Gbps.