AT&T Planning Network Improvements

As the iPhone 3G launch grew nearer, people were pointing and shouting and jumping up and down at AT&T’s sparse 3G US coverage map, and those Swedish scientists saying that it’s not the iPhone 3G’s fault has shifted the focus of everyone’s attention away from hardware and onto reception. Luckily, AT&T CTO John Donovan knows that now is the time to improve, and shared his plan with Gizmodo’s Brian Lam.

Donovan shared the steps he hopes to implement:

  • Cell site splitting. We’re deploying about 1,500 new cell sites this year. This enhances service quality in two ways – we’re expanding the geographic reach of the network, and in some places, we’re adding cell sites in existing territory to improve coverage and capacity.
  • We monitor the usage for both data and voice on each and every cell site sector, combine that with our forecasts and customer feedback to target specific locations where we need to augment capacity via further cell splits.
  • TDMA turndown. Earlier this year we turned down our TDMA/Analog networks. That allowed us to free up key spectrum to redeploy into the UMTS/HSPA network. Not only does that give us the opportunity to increase overall capacity on UMTS/HSPA, it enables us to deploy UMTS/HSPA at 850 Mhz (vs 1900 Mhz). This 850 spectrum provides optimum in-building coverage. We’re in the midst of turning up this spectrum on the UMTS-HSPA network across the country.
  • Short measurement intervals. We’re deploying capabilities to measure network performance in much shorter intervals. This capability will be especially important to maximize service quality during major events. For example, during a Final Four or World Series game, traffic on the network will spike during time outs, or when a great play, bad call, or something else big happens. In normal circumstances, we might measure traffic and performance a few times per hour, but in these situations, we’ll monitor every few minutes to ensure maximum performance during the spikes that occur in real time.
  • Wireless backhaul. We’re leveraging our U-verse and metro Ethernet fiber deployments to enhance wireless backhaul connections in many areas. We’re moving more and more of our wireless backhaul onto the 40 Gbps AT&T backbone network. So … the investments we’re making to maximize service quality on the wired side also benefit our wireless customers.
  • Drive testing. AT&T technicians and other third-party vendors will drive-test its network nearly 30 million miles in the next year to improve the network’s coverage and quality.
  • Hundreds of technicians from third-party testing companies, infrastructure vendors and AT&T technicians use specially designed vehicles to travel throughout the country and test the signal strength and coverage of AT&T’s ALLOVER Network.
  • Along with drive-testing its own network, AT&T drive-tests competitors’ networks to ensure that its coverage and quality are equal to or better than other companies providing service in the area.
  • The drive-test results help to prioritize where the company invests in new cell sites and equipment that enhances the network quality and coverage.

[via Gizmodo]

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