AT&T has it bad. They can't borrow bandwidth from Sprint or Verizon
(GSM isn't compatible with CDMA), and they have the biggest
bandwidth-sucking smartphone ever on their network, and their network
alone. They consistently get panned for not doing enough to keep iPhone
owners happen, and yet they're spending billions in infrastructure
upgrades. They just can't win. And if they soon lose the iPhone's
exclusivity to Verizon, it'll be just another blow.
Reports have been published lately detailing AT&T's trouble
getting more equipment shipped over from China. They simply cannot get
expansion equipment built fast enough to install and appease the
consumers. It has been an ongoing issue, and even the most liberal
estimates in 2006 couldn't have anticipated the extreme increase in mobile data demand that would occur
with the iPhone family launching soon after. In order to deal with all
this demand, AT&T has had to get creative. Last year, a device known
as the 3G MicroCell
was launched, and now it's available nationwide.
These basically plug into Internet routers and create in-home cell
towers to improve reception and route calls through the Internet rather
than through AT&T towers. This obviously helps reduce the strain on
the network, making it better for everyone else.
Now, the carrier is doing something similar in New York City, a place
where AT&T coverage is notoriously spotty. Many people in NYC say
that calls are dropped regularly, and having access to mobile data is
always hit or miss. To combat the issues, AT&T is creating one huge
Wi-Fi HotSpot in the middle of Times Square, a vastly popular tourist
region where thousands of images and videos are uploaded weekly from
vacationers who are eager to show off their surroundings to loved ones
back home. This new "hotzone" will allow any AT&T customer to access
the Wi-Fi network for free, which will reduce the strain on the NYC 3G
network. It's a great plan, and a simple one, and it's one that we hope
is spread around as time goes by.
If every major metro city had city-wide Wi-Fi, we imagine the 3G issues
would be far less. C'mon operators, let's make it happen.