Just in time for the hotly-rumored release of the 3G iPhone, AT&T announces that it will complete the U.S. deployment of its 3G broadband service by the end of June. This will complete a $20 billion investment AT&T has made since 2005 in upgrading the infrastructure of its almost 350 markets--of which 275 markets are already running at 3G speeds.
"With the new addition of HSUPA [High Speed Uplink Packet Access] technology, AT&T 3G users can enjoy uplink speeds between 500 and 800 Kbps. The technology is available in all but the few remaining AT&T 3G markets and will be included in all future deployments. The new upload speeds complement AT&T's 3G download capabilities, which currently offer up to 1.4 Mbps across all markets for customers who have capable devices, such as AT&T's LaptopConnect wireless modems."
While AT&T has followed on the heels of Verizon and Sprint in bringing 3G to the U.S. wireless market, AT&T has been sure to make a number of forward-looking statements promising even faster speeds to come in the not-so distant future:
"The company's HSPA network is the best-positioned among American carriers to grow in line with customer demand, evolving to HSPA+ and providing next-generation speeds without costly investments. AT&T plans to adopt LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology to reach even higher speeds in the long term."
AT&T's roadmap promises 20Mbps 3G speeds by 2009, closely followed by 100Mbps 4G speeds in 2010. AT&T claims that these improvements can largely be accomplished via software upgrades and shouldn't need any significant changes to the existing physical network. Verizon plans to have its 4G network implemented in 2009.
The faster speeds that these network improvements will bring will do far more than just provide wireless users with faster Web Surfing. As data transfer rate speeds increase, so can the image quality of streaming video. In fact, with upload speeds increasing as well, video phone calls and videoconferencing are just around the corner. Video on cell phones has already become the "killer app," and carriers have been quick to roll out video services, such as AT&T's Video Share and Verizon's V CAST services. Can cell-phone-based MMORPGs be far behind?