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What does it take to improve and further deploy our wireless service?

Capacity and Performance vs. Coverage

A new cell site could be needed for multiple reasons:

  • Consumer demand in a certain area has grown so much that a cell site is needed to provide additional capacity for better service quality; or
  • An area may not have been previously served by our network, in which case the cell site needed is for coverage.

Issues like these are why we’ve committed to expanding and enhancing our network through Project Velocity IP.

Generally, new cell sites fall into three categories:

  1. Capacity: Needed due to increased demand.
    • To add capacity to a wireless network we often add additional cell sites within a given area, enhancing our ability to offer best-in-class voice and data services. This is known as densification. When the same number of users is spread over more sites, they each get better service and more consistent data speeds.
    • Through Project Velocity IP, AT&T expects to deploy 40,000 new small cells, 10,000 macro cells and an additional 1,000 distributed antenna systems (DAS) to increase the density of its wireless network, which is expected to further improve network quality and increase spectrum efficiency.
  1. In-Fill: Needed where signal strength no longer meets current customer demands.
  2. Coverage: Needed to provide service to an area not previously served by AT&T.

Other factors include:

The Technology

Wireless communication is achieved by using radio waves to transmit data between devices. As a user moves around the network, the mobile device will “handoff” to various cell sites during calls. If there is insufficient capacity or coverage provided by these cell sites, then the quality of the phone call or data is decreased.

Wireless Technology

Cell sites are often supporting various generations of wireless technology, from second generation (2G) GSM up through fourth generation LTE (4G LTE). As new generations of technology are deployed, customers migrate over to the newer technology over time requiring continued support for the old network. These cell sites help provide you with the fast network coverage you’ve come to expect from AT&T.

  • LTE: LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. This acronym refers to the ongoing process of improving wireless technology standards with speeds up to 10x faster than 3G. LTE technology is the next step in increasing broadband speeds to meet the demands of users and the variety of content accessed over mobile networks.
  • HSPA+: Technology that enables 4G speeds up to 4x faster than AT&T’s already fast mobile broadband network.

AT&T has nationwide 4G coverage, bringing faster speeds to 288 million Americans. With the introduction of 4G LTE, AT&T is also the only carrier that offers two layers of network technology that deliver 4G speeds: LTE and HSPA+.

Why does that matter? Customers enjoy fast 4G speeds on both the HSPA+ network and on the LTE network where available. That means a smoother, more consistent 4G experience overall and continued fast speeds as customers move in and out of 4G LTE areas. Customers of other providers who do not have HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul are likely to see a steep drop-off in speeds when they move out of LTE areas.