AT&T’s Cellular ‘Upgrade’ Not Free for Users

There’s some creative license being taken by AT&T in its announcement of upgrades to its 3G cellular network today. While the lead paragraph in the company’s announcement claims its implementation of High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) technology “will provide a considerable speed boost” to its existing network, buried down farther in the release is the sobering fact that current 3G customers (except for those who bought an iPhone 3GS) will have to “upgrade” their own devices to enjoy the new speeds, by purchasing a new HSPA-ready phone, device or dongle.

Without attaching price tags (hey why bother with those details right now) here is AT&T’s explanation of why it’s better to buy a second 3G device from them instead of waiting for an LTE device from Verizon:

The AT&T rollout of HSPA 7.2 will be matched with the availability of multiple compatible wireless handsets and devices. The company expects to have six HSPA 7.2-compatible smartphones in its device portfolio by the end of the year, as well as two new LaptopConnect cards. This wide range of options will enable customers to quickly take full advantage of HSPA 7.2 speeds. In contrast, LTE devices are still in development.

What that means to the millions of iPhone 3G or iPhone customers is, sorry, you’re stuck with the old slow crowded network. More good conversation on this topic going on over at GigaOM.

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