Monday, April 20, 2009

AT&T boosts wireless speed

AT&T announced that they are rolling out faster network speeds across its network. The company uses a High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) network to provide 3G services, and it currently tops out at 3.6 Mbps downlink speed. The second-largest U.S. carrier is in the process of using software upgrades to boost that to 7.2 Mbps download speed. While the theoretical limit for HSPA is over 14Mps, few analysts expect any of the big carriers to push it to that level. That's because Sprint and Verizon Wireless are already testing the next generation of wireless broadband -- 4G -- in several markets across the country.

Since this puts the No. 1 and No. 3 carriers at a measurable and easily understandable disadvantage, I would expect that Verizon and Sprint will follow suit over the next few months. This makes sense because, given the current economic climate, most consumers will be hard-pressed to buy new 4G devices that don't give them any benefit in most of the country. And the same will be true for businesses, as well.

This will give AT&T a short-term advantage over the competition that perfectly complements their current iPhone monopoly. But the advantage won't last long, and - ultimately - customers will get the benefit.

Credit where credit is due:
InformationWeek: AT&T Beefs up 3G Network
AT&T Inc.: T (NYSE)
Verizon Communications Inc.: VZ (NYSE)
Sprint Nextel Corporation: S (NYSE)

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