AT&T is hard at work on a major upgrade now on track for debut next summer.
If all continues to go as planned, the carrier’s fourth-generation high-speed wireless network will be ready by the middle of 2011 – a timeframe that many believe proves Apple will maintain an exclusivity agreement with AT&T to carry the iPhone, as next summer will also bring with it the likely arrival of the fifth generation iPhone.
At the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2010 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference this week, AT&T Operations CEO John Stankey said “the company is actively working with its primary LTE vendor partners to get the network ready for launch.”
For the time being, AT&T is “conducting LTE trials” in Baltimore and Dallas, two favorite locations for field tests by the carrier.
According to Stankey, upwards of $700 million may be spent by AT&T on its LTE network this year, with additional plans to “go far beyond that” next year.
Stankey also says that positive changes are in store for later this year on AT&T’s 3G network. “AT&T is currently readying a nationwide HSPA+ upgrade before the end of 2010,” which will allow the carrier to deliver real-world download speeds of 7 Mbps.