AT&T To Boost 3G Speeds, Lays Out Plans For LTE

AT&T again announced recently that it plans to double the speed of its 3G network in the near future from the current 3.6M to a hefty 7.2M, while laying the groundwork for its upcoming conversion to LTE 4G speeds by 2011.

The increased speed is courtesy of an upgrade to its network to High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) technology later this year, but will speeds actually peak at what’s promised? Many still believe it won’t. In the past, promises of 1.7M and the current 3.6M speeds have proven controversial, and have even resulted in AT&T and Apple being sued for not delivering on its promises when the original iPhone debuted.

Last June, AT&T said that it had already upgraded its 3G network to reach peak speeds of 1.7M. This past April, the company said that it was doubling its 3G capacity to reach peak speeds of 3.6M, but in reality, many people are still only seeing speeds in the range of 500-700Kbps. A recent survey by Gartner Research showed that all four major U.S. carriers’ 3G networks failed to deliver on customers’ expectations for data rates. Gartner said that it received the most complaints from users about AT&T’s network and that actual mobile network averages are “generally between 300Kbps and 700Kbps lower” than expected for both uplink and downlink speeds

For a 3G network that AT&T has spent an estimated $20 Billion on to build out over recent years, you’d think it could handle the speeds that have been promised. This most likely will come with the transition to LTE technology which is poised to delivery true “mobile broadband” speeds that many have been wishing for, including me. I guess only time will tell.