Tuesday, September 25, 2012

AT&T expands its Wi-Fi zones in New York and San Francisco

AT&T said earlier this morning that it is expanding its Wi-Fi access for its subscribers in New York City and introducing it in San Francisco as well, adding data capacity in two cities with heavy wireless network use from the iPhone and other wireless devices.
AT&T will expand Wi-Fi 'hot spots' in New York's Times Square just ahead of New Year's revelers cramming there for the annual countdown to midnight.

It is also deploying its first hot spot in an outdoor area of San Francisco, the Embarcadero waterfront district.
For many years now, AT&T has operated a wide network of hot spots in hotels, airports, Starbucks coffee shops and other indoor locations. The new hot zones, as AT&T calls them, are different in that they cover public, outdoor spaces and they cluster together many access points to cover a larger area.
The hot zones provide faster data service for AT&T subscribers and divert Internet traffic from the company's cellular network. Many AT&T smartphones, including the iPhone, connect automatically to AT&T Wi-Fi when it's available.

Overall, iPhone users are like 'legion' in both New York City and San Francisco and tax AT&T's network heavily. In 2010, the company made it a priority to greatly improve wireless service in those two cities.
AT&T set up a hot zone in Times Square in May, and later in downtown Charlotte, N.C., and Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood.
AT&T CTO John Donovan said those two test cities have been successful, and now the company is expanding coverage around Times Square and setting up other hot zones around nearby Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Donovan said the company plans further Wi-Fi expansions, including inside sports stadiums.
On any given day, Wi-Fi is a cost-effective complement to wireless broadband over AT&T's regular, 3G cellular network, Donovan added, but it doesn't replace investment in that technology. The motivation for the zones is to improve the subscriber experience where a lot of people gather, he said.
AT&T smartphone and landline broadband subscribers can use the zones for free, and usage doesn't count toward monthly data limits. Non-subscribers can buy day passes for a few bucks.
In other news, AT&T said last week it has signed a deal to acquire the wireless spectrum licenses used for Qualcomm’s now defunct mobile TV service for almost $1.93 billion. The amount of money paid is almost double what some wireless industry observers had originally expected. AT&T will use Flo TV’s unpaired 700 MHz spectrum in the D and E Blocks for supplemental downlink bandwidth in its LTE network, which is scheduled to launch in February or March.
The mobile spectrum is enough to serve more than 300 million people in the U.S.
For example, 12 MHz of Lower 700 MHz D and E block spectrum covers more than 70 million people in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
And 6 MHz of Lower 700 MHz D block spectrum covers more than 230 million people across the rest of the United States.
AT&T will use wireless carrier aggregation technology to allow Flo’s unpaired spectrum to be used in conjunction with its paired spectrum holdings. The technology is designed to deliver substantial capacity gains and is slated for standardization with the completion of 3GPP Release 10.