Who will benefit from AT&T’s network “upgrade”?

A little busy here at Sidecut central as we put the finishing touches on a new report — but several news nuggets from the past few days bear a bit more questioning, at least from where we sit:

AT&T’s Network ‘Upgrade’ — While it’s good news that AT&T now plans to upgrade the speed of its 3G network, the question that seems to go unasked anywhere we look is what devices will be able to experience the speeds of HSPA+? While the network may be getting faster in spots, most all customers with current equipment will have to purchase new gear to experience the new speeds. So it’s ostensibly an upgrade — but one you will have to pay extra to enjoy.

(On a related note — if the current data caps remain in place, doesn’t having a faster HSPA+ connection mean you will actually use the network less since you will hit your monthly limits faster? Until we get the pricing and usage parameters for either HSPA+ or LTE services, there’s not any useful comparisons that can be made to actual, existing, available services.)

Verizon, AT&T differ on LTE phones — The new mantra from AT&T, starting with CTO John Donovan’s memorable fat brick comments before CTIA, is that the first versions of LTE phones aren’t going to be compelling products, and won’t arrive in volume for several years. Verizon, however, is now saying it will have multiple LTE phones by May of next year. It reminds us of a lyric from an old Dire Straits tune: “Two men say they’re Jesus — one of them must be wrong.”

Verizon offers LTE spectrum to rural operators — From a political point of view, you had to admire the genius behind Verizon’s public offer to license some of its 700 MHz spectrum holdings to rural operators, who could then use it to build Verizon-compatible LTE networks. Sounds like a good deal — we are wondering if those rural providers will qualify for the LTE equipment discounts that big providers usually get to help them pay for the infrastructure gear?

About Paul Kapustka

Paul Kapustka is a longtime journalist who has spent more than two decades covering the information technology business, Paul most recently has been focusing on mobility and how it has changed the computing and collaborative landscape. His newest project outside Mobile Enterprise 360 is a research and analysis operation called WiFi Journal. He is also editor in chief of Mobile Sports Report, which covers the intersection of mobile technology and sports business. Paul is also the founder of Sidecut Reports, a research firm that covered the emergence of 4G technology in the cellular marketplace.