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AT&T selects Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson as LTE equipment suppliers
Posted on 12-Feb-2010 09:03. | Tags Filed under: News.

AT&T Inc. have announced the selection of Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson as equipment suppliers for the planned deployment of its higher-speed LTE mobile broadband network in the U.S.

The selection of the two suppliers paves the way for AT&T’s planned field trials of LTE technology later this year, with commercial deployment scheduled to begin in 2011. AT&T’s LTE rollout schedule aligns with industry expectations for development of LTE technology and widespread availability of equipment and compatible LTE mobile devices.

The supplier agreements also complement AT&T’s plans to improve the speed of its nationwide 3G network in advance of LTE networks and devices scaling.

After testing equipment from multiple suppliers in the field and in a lab environment, AT&T chose to extend existing relationships with Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, which provide equipment for the AT&T 3G network today. Continued work with these two suppliers will enable AT&T not only to incorporate high-performance LTE equipment, but also to take full advantage of compatibility between the suppliers’ existing 3G equipment and forthcoming LTE upgrades.

As part of the supplier agreements, 3G equipment delivered to AT&T by the suppliers starting this year will be easily convertible to LTE, enabling AT&T to upgrade existing equipment and software rather than install entirely new equipment in many cases as it deploys the next-generation technology.

LTE, or Long-Term Evolution, is the next generation of the existing GSM/UMTS mobile broadband technology platform that powers the AT&T 3G network today. LTE technology could eventually deliver higher mobile broadband throughput and lower latency than today’s 3G networks, helping to drive continued growth of powerful mobile applications and advanced devices. AT&T customers will also benefit from compatibility, with devices expected to interoperate between 3G and LTE networks.

“The selection of Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson is an important step forward in our ongoing mobile broadband strategy, which is focused on delivering the best possible combination of speed, performance and available devices for customers at every level of technology deployment,” said John Stankey, president and CEO, AT&T Operations. “AT&T has a key advantage in that LTE is an evolution of the existing GSM family of technologies that powers our network and the vast majority of the world’s global wireless infrastructure today. As some competitors move away from their existing investment in niche 3G platforms, we are able to efficiently and quickly move toward LTE while enhancing our existing 3G performance and providing access to a strong ecosystem of customer devices.”

As part of the agreements, AT&T has designated Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson as the domain suppliers for its Radio Access Network Domain. The multi-year agreement covers radio access network equipment needed to deliver LTE service. This equipment will be deployed at cell sites across AT&T’s network to enable LTE speeds and functionality. Financial terms of the supplier agreements were not disclosed.

AT&T says it serves twice the number of smartphone customers as its nearest competitor, and smartphone numbers have resulted in mobile broadband traffic that has grown more than 5,000 percent over the past three years.

AT&T in January announced total 2010 capital expenditures are expected to be between US$18 billion and US$19 billion. These plans include an increase of approximately US$2 billion in wireless network and backhaul investment, which will help ensure continued strong results in 3G network performance as well as preparation for planned deployment of LTE.

Earlier this year, AT&T upgraded 3G cell sites to HSPA 7.2 technology. Over the course of 2010 and 2011, AT&T plans to combine this upgrade with enhanced fiber-optic backhaul connectivity, which will support a considerable boost in 3G speeds as well as future LTE service.

AT&T wireless network investment plans for 2010 also include construction of about 2,000 new cell sites and adding new radio controllers and carriers at a pace that doubles deployment in 2009.

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