AT&T Shifting to Small Metrocell, Wi-Fi Technology in Project Velocity IP Initiative
AT&T’s wireless network expansion plans include more than 10,000 new HSPA+/LTE cell sites, 40,000 small “metrocells,” and 1,000 distributed antenna systems (DAS) that will improve network performance, broaden Wi-Fi service, and reduce traffic on its traditional cell tower network.
With much of urban and suburban America (and the roads that connect communities) already covered by cellular networks, AT&T has embarked on an effort to more efficiently manage its wireless traffic.
AT&T, the lowest-rated wireless carrier by Consumer Reports, has suffered from a reputation for dropped calls and inadequate network infrastructure investment. The company has sought to correct those mistakes with the implementation of its multi-billion dollar Project Velocity IP (VIP) program that will expand capacity and bring Wi-Fi to new places.
John Donovan, senior executive vice president of AT&T’s Technology and Network Operations division told attendees at the Citi Global Internet, Media & Communications conference in Las Vegas the company was shifting investment towards deploying small cell technology like “metrocells” that provides service to 32 or 64 concurrent users in a small geographic area. These fiber-fed, low-power small cells traditionally cover areas less than 1.2 miles wide, and can be hidden on utility poles or on buildings.
AT&T intends to leverage its U-verse fiber to the neighborhood network to provide much of the expanded network’s backhaul connectivity, at least in cities where AT&T provides landline service.