We’ve seen a dramatic increase in smart phone use over the past few years. We’re proud of that fact and we’re proud that in many ways, we’ve enabled the smart phone revolution. But all of that usage has created an astounding amount of data demand. In fact, wireless usage has been growing over 300% each year.
Let’s talk for a minute about MMS for the iPhone. We’ve been working for months to prepare the radio access controllers in our network to support this launch. That means calibrating base stations all over the country and frankly, that’s a very time consuming process.
MMS for the iphone will be coming on September 25th. We wanted to make sure that when MMS for the iPhone Launches, the experience was great.We wanted to get it right.
Now lets talk about the network. Boiled down to its most basic form, here’s what happens when you make a call. As soon as you dial the number on your mobile device, your phone communicates with a nearby cell site. The signal is carried over radio frequency that’s reserved for use by AT&T.
The airwaves are kind of like a highway. There’s a limited number of lanes. There’s also a finite number of usable radio frequencies out there, and a limited amount of space to move data within that frequency. The cell site then sends your signal to the wired portion of AT&T’s network. It sends it to a switching center which looks something like this.
The switching center acts as kind of an electronic middle-man. It’s job is to send your signal to the person you’re calling. Either to a land line or to the nearest cell site. The more folks using mobile devices, the more traffic on the network. A big draw is mobile data, which has to travel to the internet and back, and that’s where those smart phones come in. Smart phones typically use a lot more data than regular phones, which puts geometrically more pressure on the network.
So what are we doing about it? Well put simply, we’re working around the clock to enhance and expand our network to meet these challenges. Over the past two years, we’ve invested some 38 Billion Dollars to enhance our wireless and wired networks and supporting infrastructure. And we plan to invest between 17 and 18 billion dollars this year.
We’re expanding our 3G network by adding high quality 850 megahertz spectrum in major markets. That means more capacity and improved in building coverage. We’re also deploying new technology that will considerably enhance the mobile broadband speeds on our 3G network and we’re bringing our 3G network to even more markets this year.
The bottom line is this, we have heard you, we’re on it and we will use this experience to lead the industry into the future.