• Say What? AT&T Finishes HSPA 7.2 Software Upgrade, But Speed May Not Yet Improve?

    Generally speaking, whenever the word "upgrade" is used, it usually means that something is being improved upon and thus "upgraded" to a higher performance standard or caliber of excellence. Although AT&T has been straightforward of late in its efforts to improve upon the carrier's ill-performing network, there's no guarantee (from AT&T) that speed will be readily improved in the wake of AT&T's announcement that the software for its 3G sites has been upgraded to accommodate HSPA 7.2. Put bluntly, our friends at Telephony Online say it best: speed is the goal, but speed is not yet the reality.

    While AT&Tís base stations can now handle up to 7.2 Mb/s on the downlink, it hasnít yet completed the back haul upgrades necessary to carry that increased bandwidth back into the network.
    Although the comprehensive, total upgrade to AT&T's cell sites won't conclude for another two years, AT&T reports that the full 7.2 capabilities are manifesting in six major markets first on the list to test out the upgrade. Of course, if you don't live in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, or Miami, you either have to move or be patient.

    Far from alone in their efforts, AT&T joins T-Mobile in the ongoing quest to patch up no shortage of coverage-related issues resulting from an abundance of burdens continuing to heavily weigh on a network already at the breaking point. But just because an "announcement" was made, don't suddenly develop an irrational expectation of results.

    AT&Tís 3G cellsites are backhauled primarily through T1 lines, which, while adequate in the early days of UMTS, wind up becoming a choke point as AT&T upgrades to faster and faster network technologies. Even at the old 3.6 Mb/s iteration of HSPA, AT&T was reporting bottleneck problems. So while data from the subscriber device to the base station will now travel twice as fast, it will have apply the brakes as it wends its way through the transport network to the core.
    Our attention has been so readily focused on any and all forthcoming improvements to the AT&T network that whenever an "upgrade" is announced, some overzealous AT&T customers suddenly expect to hear that the network is now working as it should and operating at optimum performance. If you believe such good news is imminent, then I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

    Otherwise, there should be no immediate high hopes born of AT&T's announcement. Yet the mounting evidence of AT&T's progress has proven adequate to maintain consumer relationships with many who are inching ever closer to switching to another carrier.

    While customers outside of the initial six markets may have to wait to take advantage of the upgraded capacity, AT&T said the HSPA 7.2 provides some benefits on its own. The bigger channel capacities smooth out multiple subscriber sessions, providing more consistency for mobile data users if not increased overall capacity.
    Image via AT&T
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