AT&T: Our 3G Goes to Eleven

It’s good to see that AT&T, as we predicted in our recent WiMax report, has responded quickly to 4G challengers by stepping up the hype on their own planned offerings. At an analyst conference Wednesday, AT&T said its 3G data network could reach download speeds of 20 Mbps by 2009, according to a report from AppleInsider.

The report quotes Ralph de la Vega, AT&T Wireless President and CEO, telling attendees at a Morgan Stanley communications conference that AT&T engineers already have a HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) 3G network running in their labs, at speeds of 7.2 megabits per second (which is about double of AT&T’s wireless network capability today). The report adds that “AT&T plans to transition to HSPA release 7 sometime in 2009, which will deliver even bigger speeds “exceeding 20 megabits per second,” according to the executive.”

While AppleInsider quotes de la Vega as saying the upgrades will require “few if any hardware modifications to the company’s infrastructure,” there has been widespread questioning of late whether or not network providers have sufficient backhaul to supply the wireless-data demands. Of course, since this is theoretical at this point de la Vega doesn’t actually have to deliver the bits today. But the hype, clearly, will arrive as scheduled.

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