ATandT Upgrading Some 2G Bandwidth to 3G, 4G in New York City

AT&T gave some New Yorkers a boost recently, upgrading 2G bandwidth to 3G and 4G, in support of higher-speed users, which the spectrum wars are all about.

AT&T and New York City mobile subscribers haven't always been on the best of terms€”crummy iPhone coverage can do that€”but on May 23 AT&T did New York a solid, reallocating some 2G bandwidth to far speedier 3G and 4G networks.

"Dedicating more capacity to our advanced wireless networks will help more of our customers in New York City have a better experience overall," Tom DeVito, vice president and general manager for AT&T in New York and New Jersey said in a statement. "By re-allocating network resources from our 2G network to support our newer, advanced networks, we're moving capacity to support the voice and mobile Internet services our customers want."

AT&T added that it needed the higher-speed bandwidth to support the exploding growth of its smartphone- and tablet-toting subscriber base. It's also reaching out to individuals with 2G devices, offering them details about their options for an upgrade as well as how to keep their mobile numbers.

Which is nice. Though of course, the more subscribers it can scoot along the road to 4G, the better.

The newer networks offer AT&T a more efficient use of its bandwidth, and eventually it intends to, however slowly, get everyone migrated over to data-share plans€”the new style of data billing that it plans to launch this summer.

The plans will usher the industry toward a new way of measuring success, Fran Shammo, CFO of Verizon Wireless, explained at a JP Morgan conference this month. Rather than focusing on revenue per user, the plans will focus on accounts. Or, put another way, the buckets of data that will be shared by multiple users or the devices owned by a single user. Verizon also plans to introduce shared data this summer.

AT&T expanded its 4G LTE coverage to New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Naples, Fla., the carrier announced May 17. The Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network now covers 38 markets, and more than 260 million people are covered by AT&T 4G.

Verizon Wireless, as if not to be outdone, on May 17 extended its LTE network to 28 new markets. Oxford, Miss.; Erie, New Castle, Oil City and Franklin, Penn.; Toledo and Canton and Bucyrus, Ohio; Fredericksburg, Va.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Eugene and Springfield, Oregon; Mitchell, S.D.; several towns in West Virginia and a number of other places an unpleasantly far drive from New York City.

Verizon's LTE coverage leads the industry, and to keep it growing, it's in the process of trying to purchase wireless spectrum from four cable companies€”which has proven controversial. Most recently, it prompted the release of an official statement from the Alliance for Broadband Competition.

On May 23, the Alliance, in response to the FCC's request for additional information on the Verizon's announcement of an open sale on a different type of spectrum, complained:

Despite its effort to cast itself as a good steward of its spectrum, Verizon's math simply doesn't add up. In the letter, Verizon fails to mention that the spectrum licenses it seeks to purchase from the cable companies cover the entire nation, while the lower MHz holdings provide only incomplete coverage. The spectrum Verizon is so willing to offload requires costly upgrades by 2013. The spectrum from the cable companies does not. The FCC must consider these transactions accordingly, which is to comprehensively assess their impact on the entire mobile industry, and not simply facilitate horse trading between the Twin Bells.