AT&T, which already claims to offer the nation's fastest 3G mobile broadband network, said the rollout of HSPA 7.2 will "provide a considerable speed boost." AT&T added that to support the HSPA 7.2, it is building out backhaul capacity to cell sites to add more capacity to support mobile data traffic growth and to prepare for the demands of next-generation 4G networks.
The HSPA 7.2 deployment will start in six major U.S. cities: Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami, AT&T said. Initial service availability is expected by the end of the year. Ultimately, AT&T plans to deploy HSPA 7.2 in 25 of the country's 30 largest markets by the end of 2010 and to reach about 90 percent of AT&T's existing 3G network footprint with HSPA 7.2 by the end of 2011.
The higher-speed 3G network could enable peak speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps, though AT&T cautioned that real-world downlink and uplink speeds will vary and will likely be slower depending on location, device and network traffic.
Along with building out the next-generation 3G network with HSPA 7.2, AT&T will also launch six HSPA 7.2-compatible smartphones by the end of the year as well as two new LaptopConnect cards made for HSPA 7.2. In preparation for the 4G network, based on LTE, AT&T is also developing LTE devices in preparation for trials that are expected to begin in 2010, with 4G LTE deployments starting in 2011.