The Tech News Blog

January 24, 2013

Google Building Wireless Network, But Why?

Cell Tower

Google is setting up a wireless network at its Mountain View headquarters, but it's unclear at this point how the search giant might use it.

As noted by the Wall Street Journal, the effort could allow Google to offer free Wi-Fi hotspots to Google Fiber clients, much like larger telecom giants do today.

During a fourth-quarter earnings call earlier this week, Patrick Pichette, Google's chief financial officer, insisted that Google Fiber was "not a hobby" and that Google wanted to expand to other cities. But first, Google has "to nail Kansas City" - the only city in which Google Fiber is currently available. "It's the perfect place to de-bug" before expanding, he said.

News of the wireless network cropped up after Google submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission for a non-broadcast "experimental radio service."

Much of the application was labeled as confidential, but the two paragraphs that were not redacted said Google would deploy five to 10 base stations inside its Mountain View headquarters for use on up to 40 user devices. In the future, additional deployments would occur on building rooftops throughout the Google campus.

"Google plans to test up to 50 base stations and 200 user devices during the requested experimental license term, and requests authority to deploy in these quantities," Google told the FCC.

November 13, 2012

Sprint 4G LTE Headed to 9 More Cities

Sprint LTE

Sprint on Tuesday announced plans to fire up its super-fast 4G LTE network in nine additional cities in the coming months.

The company has already begun working on its 4G LTE network in the following areas: Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; Oakland, Fremont, and Hayward, Calif.; Key West, Fla.; Fort Smith, Ark.; Michigan City and La Porte, Ind.; Bloomington, Ind.; Eau Claire, Wis.; Ardmore, Okla.; and McAllen, Edinburg, and Mission, Texas.

"We're committed to providing improved 3G and 4G LTE as quickly as possible, and keeping our customers informed as to when and where they can experience the new network's superior performance and speed," Bob Azzi, Sprint's senior vice president of network, said in a statement.

Sprint started its 4G LTE rollout in July with 15 cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, and San Antonio; it now covers 32 cities. The carrier has now announced more than 125 cities into which is plans to expand, including Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tenn.; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C.

November 7, 2012

AT&T to Spend $14B on Network Expansion

AT&T LTE coverage

AT&T is pushing forward with expansion plans, today announcing a three-year upgrade - dubbed Project Velocity IP (VIP) - to its wireless and wired networks.

The service provider will spend $14 billion over the next three years - $8 billion for wireless and $6 billion for wireline - in an effort to significantly expand and enhance its networks, as well as support new mobile, app, and cloud services.

"This is a major commitment to invest in 21st Century communications infrastructure for the United States and bring high-speed Internet connectivity […] to millions more Americans," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement.

On the wireless front, Project VIP will expand AT&T's 4G LTE network to cover 300 million people in the U.S. by the end of the 2014. The company also plans to buy more spectrum for a total of 118Mhz nationwide and push for the FCC to release more. AT&T also pledged to deploy small cell tech, macro cells, and more distributed antenna systems to boost the performance of its existing network.

For wireline, AT&T will expand its U-verse TV, Internet, and voice service by about one-third, or 85 million customer locations, by the end of 2015. Its high-speed Internet and VoIP IPDSLAM service will also expand to 24 million customer locations by the end of next year. A speed boost is also in the works - 75 Mbps for U-verse and 45 Mbps for IPDSLAM.

September 19, 2012

AT&T Expands 4G LTE Network Ahead of iPhone 5

AT&T LTE coverage

Just in time for the iPhone 5, AT&T this week continued its 4G LTE rollout, firing up its ultra-fast network in several large markets, including Detroit, Honolulu, Seattle, and Pittsburgh.

AT&T also announced it turned on its 4G LTE network this week in Birmingham, Ala.; Memphis, Tenn.; Portland, Ore.; and Sacramento, Calif. In addition, the carrier last week enhanced service in Philadelphia as well as Rochester, N.Y. and Wilmington, Del.

With the recent expansion, AT&T's LTE network now covers 72 markets, the carrier said. AT&T is planning to reach a total of 100 cities by the end of the year, and largely complete its LTE rollout by the end of 2013.

The expansion should be good news to AT&T subscribers who plan to buy Apple's new iPhone 5, which will have 4G LTE connectivity. The iPhone 5, which is set to go on sale this Friday, now supports HSPA+ 42 and HSPA+ 21 on AT&T, giving it plenty of room to roll back if it can't find AT&T LTE signal and yet still deliver fast data speeds. In comparison, the previous iPhone 4S topped out at just HSPA+ 14.4.

April 17, 2012

Verizon Firing Up LTE Network in 27 More Cities on Thursday

Verizon Wireless is rolling full steam ahead on 4G LTE deployments, with plans on Thursday to activate its super-fast network in 27 new markets and expand coverage in 44 existing markets.

With Thursday's expansion, Verizon's LTE network will cover 230 markets, or more than two-thirds of the U.S. population, the carrier said. By the end of the year, Verizon aims to ramp up its total number of LTE markets to more than 400, reaching more than 260 million people. For more details about Verizon's LTE expansion this Thursday, see below.

"We will continue to introduce new markets and expand covered markets to ensure even more wireless users across the United States can take advantage of the benefits that 4G LTE brings," David Small, chief technical officer of Verizon Wireless, said in a statement. "This year represents a year of growth and investment in our 4G LTE network, which stands out by virtue of its superb combination of coverage, speed and the variety of devices that we offer customers."

In December, Verizon celebrated the one-year anniversary of its 4G LTE network. PCMag gave the network high praise during our 2011 Fastest Mobile Networks test: "We found that Verizon's new 4G LTE network is much faster than other mobile Web options, with speeds that often exceed home Internet connections," PCMag analysts concluded.

October 25, 2011

Sprint, Apple Working on iPhone 4S Data Speed Issues, Email Says

Sprint reported record activations the day it started selling the iPhone 4 and 4S, but has that influx of data-hungry smartphones hosed the carrier's network?

According to TheNextWeb, an internal email sent to Sprint representatives says that Apple and Sprint are working on a fix for a "confirmed nationwide issue" regarding slow data speeds, but additional details were not divulged.

Apple iPhone 4S users have taken to the Sprint forums to complain about network speeds that are "too slow to be useful." Those who have contacted Sprint's customer support were told that it was a "known issue" and that a fix was on its way.