AT&T Wireless has announced plans to upgrade its 3G network to support internet access at speeds of up to 20 megabits per second, starting in 2009.
The update, known as HSPA Release 7, is an intermediate step between the company's current 3.6 megabit HSPA network, and its planned deployment of a fourth-generation network beginning in 2010. According to the company, the Release 7 rollout will be primarily software based, requiring few hardware modifications on the deployed towers, speeding deployment.
Existing users, however, will almost certainly require new devices to take advantage of the added speed. Currently existing HSPA devices only support speeds up to 7.2 megabits.
The company's CEO also heavily emphasized the role of data and internet access for the company going forward, including a smooth integration of its future LTE network with existing GSM and HSPA deployments.