AT&T says its 3G network is nearing completion; we're not so sure

AT&T says that its rollout of a speedier 3G mobile network is nearing completion in the U.S.


AT&T says all it needs to do is add six more markets by the end of June and deployment of High Speed Uplink Packet Access technology — faster access to data networks for mobile phones, for those who could care less about tech speak — will reach more than 280 markets.

So? Will you get 3G speeds where you live or work?

A few miles away from me, in Southlake, Texas, there’s an Apple Store where bunches of people will wait in line, probably in near 100 degree heat, to secure the highly anticipated iPhone 2.0. If they live in the affluent Dallas and Fort Worth suburbs of Southlake or Colleyville or the more modest ‘burbs of Grapevine, Keller, the Mid Cities, Justin, Lewisville — the list goes on — the new iPhone may not receive 3G coverage.

And this is according to AT&T’s own coverage viewer list, which you can review here.

Click on a neighboring city and drill down by zip code, and AT&T’s coverage viewer shows 3G is in every nook and cranny whether a specific city or suburb is listed or not.

Which is it?

att coverageIt’s clear that AT&T’s 3G-is-nearing-completion announcement is hype leading up to the release of iPhone 2.0, which is expected to be available in early to mid June.

What’s more, the 3G network will be new and AT&T’s numbers are likely based on controlled tests, so your mileage may vary, depending on where you are. The carrier promises uplink speeds of between 500Kbps and 800Kbps, which is certainly a nice bump — again depending on where you are.

What’s more accurate to say is that AT&T’s buildout of its 3G network is proceeding along nicely and a majority of major metropolitan and mid-sized cities are expected to be covered by the time the iPhone 2.0 is released. In the meantime, all 3G devices are compatible with the current EDGE network.

But it’s clear that AT&T still has a lot of work remaining if 3G is to blanket large, medium, and small markets like the EDGE network, which is available in 13,000 cities and along 40,000 miles of highway.

Our advice: Unless you absolutely, positively must wait in line for iPhone 2.0 as a badge of coolness and hipness, hang loose for a few days. Make sure you get 3G speeds where you live, work, or travel.


last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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