AT&T Improving 3G Network as it Retains Exclusive Deal With Apple

The predictions that Apple would announce a multiple-carrier model for the US did not come true on Wednesday at the iPad special media event. In fact, Apple made a deal with the carrier to provide data services to iPads, and didn't mention any changes in the exclusive iPhone deal with AT&T.

apple iphone att exclusive deal

For its part, AT&T has announced major improvements to the range, speed and strength of its 3G wireless network. The company currently provides service to twice as many smartphone customers as its nearest competitor.

Since the iPhone was introduced, AT&T has experienced a 5,000% increase in mobile data traffic on its network. Skeptics believe the AT&T network will crumble under the data demands of iPad users, as the network has already been cited for problems due to its iPhone users' extreme data usage.

AT&T has already factored the iPad into its plans for 2010 and has no intention of letting this happen. Investments of two billion dollars will expand and improve the 3G and HSPA 7.2 network and introduce fiber-optic backhaul to further increase data speeds. The iPad and iPhone 3GS both take advantage of the faster speeds made possible by HSPA 7.2.

In 2009, AT&T added 1,900 new cellular towers, expanding 3G coverage to over 360 markets. AT&T CFO Rick Lindner believes iPad users will rely heavily on Wi-Fi, so the device will not impact the company's 3G network nearly as much as the iPhone.


Clarifications & Corrections:

--Since the 3G version of the iPhone debuted, AT&T has experienced a 7,000% increase in data traffic.

--Investments of $2B dollars in 2010 is actually investments of $2B *MORE* than they invested last year, which means the sum of '10 investments will be around $19B dollars, which will include, among other things, over 2,000 new cell cites and fiber upgrades to existing ones that will double 3G speeds, which are already the fastest among US carriers.

--Present AT&T 3G footprint covers 75% of Americans

--AT&T has by far the largest WiFi network, which includes over 20,000 hotspots. If for no other reason this (and punishing Verizon for their controlling ways) is why Apple chose to stick with AT&T for iPad.