AT&T plans network changes to make your iPhone suck less

Thu. September 10, 2009 12:00 AM by Brett Anthony

Network boost on AT&T may satisfy irate iPhone users in Chicago

Chicago, IL - Cellular phones users on AT&T, in particular those using Apple's iPhone, have complained for months about poor service and coverage in Chicago's Wrigleville and Lakeview neighborhoods including Boystown.

Complaints about lack of signal and dropped calls surfaced this summer during Cubs home games at Wrigley Field. AT&T initially claimed it was network overload caused by the ballpark crowd. The carrier placed cellular on wheels (C.O.W.S.) units in the area to accommodate the added cellular traffic.

Network issues continue to plague AT&T and have provoked a high number of complaints throughout Chicago and other major markets including New York and Los Angeles. Last week a report in the New York Times indicated the problem is the result of a high number of iPhone users taxing AT&T's network. The mobile carrier even released a YouTube video explaining the problem.

AT&T, the second-largest U.S. carrier, said Wednesday that Chicago will be one of the first cities to benefit from speed upgrades to its 3G wireless network.

Owners of Apple iPhone 3GS will be among the first customers able to take advantage of the faster speeds when complete by the end of this year.

The Dallas-based telecommunications company said it will bring the HSPA 7.2-megabit-per-second technology to Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami by the end of the year, essentially doubling maximum download speeds on the network at no additional charge.

The original iPhone 3G will not be able to take advantage of the faster speeds.

The mobile carrier also said it will be deploying additional backhaul capacity to the cell towers in these markets to reduce congestion, which has been a particular problem for iPhone users in Chicago and these major markets.

Customers who complain about weak signals indoors may also find better service with the rollout of the 850-MHz 3G spectrum.

AT&T is also boasting of 2,000 new cell phone towers in 2009, which should help improve coverage overall. The carrier is said to be investing $18 billion in its network this year.