AT&T is expecting traffic to increase tenfold with the presumed release of the next iteration of the iPhone this summer, and is expanding and improving their wireless network to handle the added stress with ease.
Currently, AT&T's network only goes up to 7.2 Mbps, though the iPhone 3G itself (responsible for about half the network's data usage) is only capable of 3.6 Mbps. But according to a vendor source, AT&T is planning, in select markets (as nationwide coverage has never been the network's strongest suit), to double the speeds to 14.4 Mbps and even hit 20 Mbps in some areas by this coming June.
Of course, this improved network will require a new, faster iPhone to take advantage of the new speeds, and one source says they expect ten times (!) the amount of transferred data with the release of the next iPhone. The expansion is being compared to the network's actions between the release of the first iPhone and the iPhone 3G as well as their expansion of their EDGE network in preparation of the launch of the original iPhone.
In addition to the upped speeds, AT&T is also reported to be migrating its existing 1900 MHz towers to the superior 850 MHz. The main advantage of such a change is in strength of coverage, especially through obstacles like foliage and buildings. By the end of this calendar year, the company plans to have the transition finished in San Francisco and New York City, followed by the rest of the country.
We'll keep you updated with the latest information on AT&T's network because we all know what a more reliable, faster network leads to: Better toys for us.
AU: What this means for us down here in Australia is that if Apple increases the hardware capabilities of the next iPhone, you'll almost certainly want to switch to Telstra to take advantage of it. At the moment, only NextG is capable of 14.4Mbps, and even though all the other networks are currently capable of 7.2Mbps, they don't run on that 850 MHz spectrum that works through walls. We'll be following this closely, in any case...