The company is upgrading its network to High Speed Packet Access 7.2 technology, and it will raise theoretical speeds to 7.2 Mbps. AT&T is spending about $18 billion to accomplish this, doubling the spectrum allocated for its 3G network, and the upgrades will begin this year and are expected to be completed by 2011.
"AT&T's network infrastructure gives us a tremendous advantage in that we're able to deliver upgrades in mobile broadband speed and performance with our existing technology platform," said Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility, in a statement. "With the array of smartphones, laptops, and emerging devices taking advantage of AT&T's 3G network today, we know that customers are excited to experience higher mobile broadband speeds, and we are deploying the right technologies at the right times to help them get the most from that experience."
The carrier said it will introduce smartphones capable of using the boosted network later this year, and one of these could be the next-generation iPhone. Apple's touch-screen smartphone has been a hit for AT&T, and it accounted for the bulk of the carrier's new subscribers last quarter. Consumers have made the device a popular handset, but the shoddy 3G reception has led to many complaints and a few lawsuits.
Apple is expected to reveal the next iPhone soon, possibly at June's World Wide Developers Conference. A third-generation iPhone is expected to have increased storage capacity, and would likely be capable of accessing the faster 3G network.
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