With the iPad launch out of the way, the internet can now return to its normal springtime routine of reading the tea leaves to learn more about the upcoming iPhone refresh. The latest development is from Boy Genius, who reports that several AT&T sources say that the company is denying any employee requests for vacation time in the month of June.
Based on a report by the Wall Street Journal [subscription required] today, AT&T is working hard to beef up their network to handle the continued load from the iPhone, including enlisting help from Apple. Aside from the mission to assure Steve Jobs they were working on the problem, AT&T met with Apple designers to discuss wireless networking. As a result, Apple was able to change how the iPhone communicates with AT&T's network, lessening the load for basic tasks such as locating the closest tower or checking for new messages.
AT&T announced today that they intend to begin offering the 3G MicroCell nationally starting mid April. If you missed our previous articles about the MicroCell, the device is designed to create a sort of personal cell tower in your home, allowing you to finally make calls on your iPhone if you live in an area where cell reception is poor. There is a one-time cost of $150 and no monthly fees, although for an additional $20 per month users can make unlimited phone calls using the MicroCell without using any of their phone's voice plan minutes. There are two rebates available to bring down the cost of the MicroCell. Customers who opt for the additional monthly calling plan will receive a $100 rebate on the purchase of the MicroCell, and new subscribers to AT&T's broadband service (DSL or U-Verse 1.5MB or higher) can receive a $50 rebate.
Rumors began today that Apple would begin selling iPhones in the U.S. without an AT&T contract and possibly unlocked. One rumor was confirmed earlier by Gizmodo with an official response from Apple (below), but the speculation of the phones being unlocked turned out to be false.
According to MobileCrunch, the Nexus One, which may not have sold incredibly well, but is still regarded as a capable Android unit, is now compatible with AT&T's 3G network. The T-Mobile version of the Nexus One, which worked with AT&T provided you didn't hop on AT&T's network, has gained additional functionality according to a post on Google's Nexus One blog.
The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise given that the Nexus One has yet to clear the FCC and Google made no mention of it whilst heralding that the Verizon Nexus One was "Coming Soon!".
AT&T hasn't been quite as forthcoming with the details of its post-3G network as competitors T-Mobile and Verizon in recent weeks, butFierceBroadbandWireless seems to have gained access to specific details in an interview with wireless head Ralph de la Vega.
Although the standard HSPA 7.2Mbps deployment is still AT&T's short-term focus, HSPA+(which can theoretically take HSPA to 21Mbps and beyond) is still a company focus prior to LTE. "We will also deploy HSPA+ in certain locations," said de la Vega.
Coinciding with today's iPad pre-ordering, Apple updated the iPad section of their site. Buried deep in the iPad section is a page providing more information about the data plans available on the Wi-Fi + 3G model of the iPad. The first paragraph reads like an advertisement for AT&T's "quality" service, but the second paragraph reiterates some of what Steve Jobs said in his introduction keynote. Options are limited data (250MB) for $14.99 per month, or unlimited data for $29.99 per month. The most significant piece of information is that a contract is not required.
AT&T's been singing its own praises as to how it's renovating its network via commercials and interviews with the media and it's time to count the tangibles.
According to Engadget, the company is planning to add coverage to at least a dozen cities over the course of 2010, these cities including New York to metropolitan areas in Florida and Oklahoma with the company investing in additional cell sites, more 3G coverage and additional backhaul.
AT&T is going to extra lengths to make sure their network runs smoothly for iPhone-toting attendees to this year's South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. The company has been working with SXSW organizers to make sure they're ready for the legions of iPhone-clad show-goers.
One of the things they're doing differently is deploying a Distributed Antenna System, which packs the punch of 50 antenna nodes. They also beefed up cell sites, and rolled in three mobile temporary ones. Last but not least, they have upped their backhaul significantly. "Compared with last year, we have added fiber-optic connections to more than quadruple the backhaul capacity of each of the eight cell sites that serve the event area, and temporary sites will also be served by extensive backhaul."
AT&T has just announced that they're now expanding the areas in which you can get one of those cool, little 3G MicroCell boxes. You know, the ones that create your own little AT&T cell tower using your home Internet connection?
In addition to North Carolina (AT&T's initial test area), the MicroCells are now available in parts of Georgia, South Carolina, San Diego, and Las Vegas. If you'd like to check for MicroCell availability in your area, head to att.com/3GMicroCell and enter your ZIP code.