AT&T Beefs Up Network, Answers Critics

Company calls race to meet demand for its mobile services "daunting task"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AFP/Getty Images
    Dallas-based AT&T is racing to keep up with surging demand for mobile data services.

    Dallas-based AT&T Inc. is racing to expand its network.

    The company is coping with surging demand for its mobile services, thanks to popular products such as Apple's iPhone and iPad.  AT&T is the exclusive service provider for those devices.

    What AT&T Is Doing to Silence Critics

    [DFW] What AT&T Is Doing to Silence Critics
    Dallas-based AT&T is racing to keep up with surging demand for mobile data services. (Published Thursday, Jul 8, 2010)

    "It's a daunting task," said John Donovan, AT&T's chief technology officer.

    Donovan said data traffic on AT&T's network is up 5,000 percent in just three years. The company currently supports roughly half of all mobile data traffic in the United States.

    Critics say AT&T hasn't done enough to keep up.

    "Clearly, they never anticipated the demand," said Jerry Kaufman of Alexander Resources, a wireless industry consulting group.

    Donovan is candid about AT&T's challenge.

    "We are not where we'd like to be," he said.

    However, Donovan is quick to point out that AT&T will spend up to $19 billion this year to expand its network. Among the improvements:

    • More fiber-optic cable to support faster 3G speeds 
    • About 2,000 new cell sites
    • Expanded Wi-Fi service

    The goal is to keep up with consumers who can't seem to get enough of mobile services.

    "It's become a never-ending circle of trying to play catch-up," Kaufman said.  

    But AT&T is vowing to get ahead of the curve.

    "We're building as much and as fast as we can," Donovan said.