AT&T doubling 3G capacity

Tweaks to the HSPA network will bring 3G capacity up to 7.2 Mb/s even before AT&T implements next-gen wireless technologies.

AT&T is in the process of doubling the capacity of its 3G networks, using software enhancements to squeeze one last boost in bandwidth from its current generation networks before it begins its migration to evolved 3G and eventually 4G.

AT&T is increasing the downlink capacity on its high-speed packet access (HSPA) from 3.6 megabits per second to 7.2 Mb/s through software upgrades at the base station, said Scott McElroy, AT&T Mobility vice president of technology realization. AT&T currently has the enhanced networks running in two test markets but plans to extend those capabilities to its entire network. Later this year, AT&T plans to start migrating its 3G networks to evolved-HSPA (or HSPA+), which would triple peak speeds.

Theoretically HSPA can support up 14.4 Mb/s of capacity over a 5-MHz downlink, but when the technology was first introduced, commercial equipment wasn't able to meet HSPA's full potential. The results have been a series of iterations in the HSPA standard that operators have been implementing as vendors release both the upgrade modules needed at the base station and the enhanced device chipsets required to support the increased capacities. AT&T, then Cingular, launched its network in 2005, supporting 1.8 Mb/s, but boosted that capacity to 3.6 Mb/s by 2008. Most of the laptop cards and smartphones AT&T sells, including the iPhone, have the silicon necessary to access that additional capacity. AT&T is now in the process of field certifying

7.2-Mb/s devices on its two test networks, McElroy said.

The next obvious step would be for AT&T to further upgrade its 3G networks and devices to its full 14.4-Mb/s potential, but McElroy said AT&T will most likely skip the final HSPA iteration for two reasons: There have been technical difficulties implementing the final step, and HSPA+ is now ready for prime time. There's little point in migrating to 14.4 Mb/s if AT&T can go straight to 21 Mb/s, McElroy said. HSPA+ actually encompasses a bevy of upgrades, including evolving to a flat IP core and the introduction of smart antenna technology, but AT&T is focusing on upgrades to the baseband, which will dramatically increase capacity without having to fiddle with the elements on the tower or in the core.

AT&T isn't just adding capacity through upgrades; it's also adding HSPA carriers at many cellsites. "It's being done on a market-by- market basis," McElroy said. "We're adding second and even third carriers according to demand. We're also in the early phases of an 850- MHz overlay." Though the initial 3G network was built over AT&T's PCS spectrum, AT&T has started using its cellular band for expansion, giving its 3G network far more range and the ability to reach into buildings.

McElroy added that AT&T is upgrading its backhaul network, where possible, to handle the increased data traffic resulting from its network upgrades, though McElroy said he could not reveal the exact extent of those efforts. In cases where the AT&T mothership has built fiber to cell sites, AT&T Mobility is taking advantage of its high- bandwidth transport. AT&T is also using microwave backhaul in some cases, and in some areas has moved sites entirely over to carrier Ethernet transport. AT&T PURSUING NEW DATA DEVICES

As AT&T beefs up its network capacity, it's seeking out new categories of data devices beyond smartphones and PC cards. At CTIA Wireless earlier this month, AT&T's president of emerging devices highlighted new data-only gadgets, ranging from digital cameras to e-book readers AT&T was testing and certifying for launching. The first of these new devices were announced at the show: netbooks from Acer, Dell and LG embedded with HSPA and WiFi chips that would connect to both AT&T's 3G and hotspot networks.

Essentially miniature Internet-centric laptops, the netbooks come with

3G DataConnect plans, just like its PC Card and embedded laptop services, but as AT&T starts offering more specialized data devices, its billing models will change, Lurie said. A customer won't pay for a $10- to $20-a-month data plan simply to upload a digital photo wirelessly from a camera to a picture frame, Lurie said, but that customer may pay a set nominal fee per photo. These new data models will have to "break some rules," Lurie said, discarding the notion of a steady monthly subscription. "This may be the single biggest opportunity in the wireless industry today going forward: growing incremental revenues," Lurie said.

Sprint was the first operator to test these types of per-transaction billing when it partnered with Amazon to launch the Kindle e-book reader. While the Kindle remains constantly connected to the Sprint EV- DO network, much like a smartphone, the customer never incurs a monthly data charge. In fact, the customer usually isn't even aware of the Sprint network. Whenever he or she purchases a book or a magazine or newspaper subscription from Amazon, the customer is billed only for the purchase, while Amazon compensates Sprint for use of its data network. Verizon, too, has launched its own open developer program to encourage new types of devices and business models on its 3G networks, though the results of those efforts haven't been so public. Most of the devices the program has certified so far have been machine-to- machine devices used in industry, and the few consumer devices on the network are being sold by third-party service providers.

Lurie didn't offer any specifics on what types of devices besides the netbooks will come out of the program, but he said AT&T is working with multiple vendors big and small to certify their products. "We're talking to OEMs coming out of the garage with duct tape on their devices, and we're talking to $100 billion companies," Lurie said. THE ROAD TO LTE

While AT&T will continue to upgrade and expand its 3G network into the foreseeable future, AT&T is taking the initial steps toward 4G. McElroy said AT&T is now in the process of selecting vendors for its future long-term evolution (LTE) network and plans to have its first test markets up in 2010.

When LTE goes commercial in 2011, it will initial be a very data- focused network, utilizing LTE's high capacity for bandwidth-intensive devices like laptops, but eventually AT&T plans to scale LTE support down to handsets, extending voice services to the network using VoIP.

AT&T will use both its 700 MHz and advanced wireless services (AWS) spectrum to launch LTE, McElroy said. Even if AT&T fills up both bands, it still has reams of cellular and PCS spectrum it could eventually allot to LTE if demand for 4G broadband balloon. Once voice starts migrating over to LTE, AT&T's 2G and 3G channels could be repurposed for LTE.

"We feel very good about our spectrum position," McElroy said. "And we say that with full understanding of what the data demands will be."

- - - - - - - (Disclaimer)

I have no business with [any] of them. Saw that the article is interesting and [I hope] some might enjoy reading it as a news article provided with source location. Thats all.


Ergyn Sadiku

Reply to
Ergyn Sadiku
Loading thread data ...

What is "3G" and "4G"?

I presume this HSPA is some sort of data communication. But what is being "downlinked", and from what to what and what does that higher speed mean in terms of service?

Will any of this improve the coarse quality of today's voice transmissions over cell phones? Cell phone conversations are not the easiest to make; if the speaker on either end is not careful to speak clearly and directly into the mouthpiece, the words get "blurred" and hard to understand.

***** Moderator's Note *****

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one confused by all the new acronyms.

I'm curious if any of the readers can weigh in on the trade-offs between voice quality and bandwidth on cell phones.

Bill Horne Temporary Moderator

Please put [Telecom] at the end of your subject line, or I may never see your post! Thanks!

We have a new address for email submissions: telecomdigestmoderator atsign This is only for those who submit posts via email: if you use a newsreader or a web interface to contribute to the digest, you don't need to change anything.

Reply to

Perhaps my hearing isn't the best, but I am not comfortable using my cellphone or talking to someone using their cellphone. I often find myself saying "what?" "say again?" during the conversation. It seems that if the other person isn't speaking directly into the mouthpiece (say they're doing something else and not holding their phone correctly), the transmission becomes "coarse", even if I turn up the cellphone volume. Sort of like the coarse sound when someone stands too close to a microphoen of a PA system or the amp is too high and there's distortion. (For me, turning up the reception volume on my cellphone does not help--it just makes the coarse sound louder but does not add to distinctiveness to it.)

Do cell phones vary in quality of transmission or reception? (I don't think so.)

I simply think the logical bandwidth alloted to carrying the voice signal is too small so that they can pack more conversations into a physical radio space. (The Bell System did that during and after WW II to get more channels out of the long distance network due to high demand.)

Reply to

Pretty much marketing-speak for technologies beyond GSM/GPRS.

HSPA is shorthand for HSDPA (High Speed Download/Data Packet Access) and/or HSUPA (High Speed Upload/Universal Packet Access) -- your choice as to what the D and the U really mean (I've seen both). Data, of course. To/from your data handset (WAP or web browser on your cell phone, or your cellular data modem (Sierra Wireless, for example)).

Voice? No. Data: SMS, HTML, WML, FTP, that sort of internet data stuff.

I had the pleasure of using one of Sierra Wireless's data modems -- a PCMCIA-card called the AirCard 881 -- with a prepaid data SIM from Orange (PL) -- in a Windows laptop while in Poland recently.

In Warsaw, it connected almost as fast as my basic DSL connection at home in CT, through an HSDPA-enabled tower that provided (up to) 3.6 Mb/sec speeds. (The Air Card 881's inherent fastest data rate is claimed as 7.2 Mb/sec.)

In the countryside, only EDGE or UMTS speeds were available, but it still was perceptibly faster than old-fashioned copper-loop dial-up, ~ 75 kb/sec.

Not exactly addressing the above, but: Voice and Data are incompatible with each other when swapping one SIM between such a data modem, on the one hand, and a GSM cellular handset. You've only got one SIM, after all, and it can only reside in one unit's SIM slot at a time :-) , even if it

*is* good for voice calls in the (unlocked) cellular handset.

Cheers, -- tlvp

Reply to

Thanks for the explanation.

But I'm confused--how much web browsing can someone do with a 2"x 3" screen? Seems the phone and keyboard are simply too tiny to be able to do any kind of web work. For instance, there's no way in heck I'd use a cell phone to do these Usenet posts.

***** Moderator's Note *****

There's no way in hell _I_ would use a cellphone to do _anything_ but talk: trying to read a website on a screen that small is an invitation to eyestrain. It goes without saying that cellphone vendors are marketing their "does everything" products to very young consumers with very good eyesight.

Bill Horne Temporary Moderator

Please put [Telecom] at the end of your subject line, or I may never see your post! Thanks!

We have a new address for email submissions: telecomdigestmoderator atsign This is only for those who submit posts via email: if you use a newsreader or a web interface to contribute to the digest, you don't need to change anything.

Reply to

On Sun, 26 Apr 2009 17:49:59 -0400, hancock4 wrote: .........

And in a few years they will have a big market of adults with crippled thumbs and stuffed eyes to sell more new gadgets that help those with these afflictions.......

Bionic phone/PDA implants anyone?

Reply to
David Clayton

You're more than welcome.

I use mine (with a 128x128 pixel screen) to check email via its built-in WAP browser while travelling -- my plan allows unlimited data of that sort, worldwide (right: no data roaming charges!), and to send short, telegraphic acknowledgements pending access to a real computer.

I also use the Google search functionality that forms part of the Opera Mini browser I've added on (a free WAP download/install) to do preliminary research on questions of interest to me prior to a *real* search on a real machine. It works for me, as I'm myopic, needing glasses only for driving, but not for reading. Of course, the light has to be right :-) .

There's no newsreader I know of, anyway, for cell phones, so you can't even *see* Usenet posts except perhaps through their googlegroups html- ificated versions.

But hotmail, yahoo mail, gmail, and all offer WAP access to your mailboxes, and T-Mo offers a WAP-based POP3 mail interrogator by which you can access up to a half-dozen of your POP3-accessible email accounts. That *is* handy while you're on the road.

Mine eyes have seen the coming (and going) of three-score years and ten, and have yet to think of scanning email headers (and bodies) on the screen of a cell phone as a strain. Moreover, it wasn't T-Mo, nor even Nokia, who pitched these capabilities to me -- it was my own interest in seeing just how close a "naive" handset like the old Motorola TimePort P-7389 could come to replacing a laptop for internet access while travelling.

Answers: for the P-7389, not terribly close. For the Moto P-280, not much closer. For a Nokia 6610 with the Opera Mini (basic) browser added on, quite a bit closer. Likewise for the original Motorola RAZR V3, which actually accepts the "advanced" version of the Opera Mini browser.

Right now I'm hoping to find a handset with screen at least 320x240 pixels, with all the capabilities of the Nokia 6610 and RAZR V3 -- *and* Sierra Wireless Air Card 881-AC -- *and* WCDMA voice good in US, Korea, and Japan

-- and tetherable as cellular data modem -- with which to replace my current

6610 and V3 and Air Card. Ideas, anyone?

Cheers, -- tlvp

Reply to
tlvp Forums website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.