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AT&T refutes infrastructure neglect claims, talks future upgrades

You know it’s bad when AT&T starts to take some heat from Saturday Night Live and not just Twitter and the blogosphere. With ongoing criticism about its network and sub-par performance, AT&T was recently accused of increasing data revenues and neglecting its infrastructure. In response to these claims, AT&T not only denies ditching its network maintenance while swimming in cash, but it also delineates plans for improving future performance. While AT&T won’t break down capital expenditures to tell us exactly how much was spent on infrastructure for competitive reasons, here is part of its statement regarding the rumors:

Here’s a look at how we’re spending what’s expected to be between $17 and $18 billion in improvements in 2009 to our wireline and wireless networks, with billions on wireless:

  • We are nearly doubling the wireless spectrum serving 3G customers in hundreds of markets across the country, using high-quality 850 MHz spectrum. This additional spectrum expands overall network capacity and improves in-building reception.
  • We are adding about 2,000 new cell sites to our network in 2009, expanding service to new cities and improving coverage in other areas.
  • We’re adding about 100,000 new backhaul connections, which add critical capacity between cell sites and the global IP backbone network.
  • We’re enabling widespread access to our Wi-Fi network – the largest in the country with more than 20,000 hotspots in all 50 states – allowing customers to take advantage of the best available AT&T mobile broadband connection.
  • We’re rolling out even faster 3G speeds with deployment of HSPA 7.2 technology and are preparing for field trials of next generation, LTE wireless networks next year, with deployment planning to begin in 2011. This schedule aligns with industry expectations for when a wide variety of compatible 4G wireless devices should be available.

While plans and numbers sound impressive, and we’ve already heard it before, we’re sure most of you are far more concerned with results and real-world use.