AT&T has formally announced plans for deploying its 7.2 Mbps mobile data service upgrade this year, which will support faster iPhone models expected to be released this summer.
AT&T said the upgrade to “High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 technology,” which delivers theoretical peak speeds twice that of the company’s current 3G network, will continue through 2011. Next year, the company will also begin trials of LTE (Long Term Evolution), with deployment of that technology to begin in 2011. LTE plans to eventually reach theoretical peak speeds of 20 Mbps.
Both HSPA and LTE are components of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of technologies, which include GSM/EDGE and UMTS, the worldwide “3G” service supported by the iPhone 3G.
Because AT&T’s network is currently based on 3GPP standards, the company can deliver the upgrade to HSPA 7.2 service immediately to support faster smartphones prior to the buildout of LTE, which isn’t expected to become widely available until at least 2011-2012.
So it appears AT&T is nearly ready for the new models to be released.