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  • AT&T Working Around 3G Issues with WiFi "Hotzones"


    AT&T has announced that they've set up their second "WiFi Hotzone," part of a pilot project to redirect network traffic from the company's overburdened 3G network, in the downtown area of Charlotte, North Carolina. The free (for customers) network follows the first such hotzone set up in Times Square in Manhattan, with a third zone to be coming to Chicago "in the coming weeks." The carrier's plan is to ultimately be able to support as many as 68 million connections on their WiFi networks.

    With upwards of 32 million customers nationwide with compatible smartphones or LaptopConnect cards, AT&T is pursuing the hotzone project in an effort to reduce data throughput demands on the 3G network in the busiest cities in the US. It's much easier and cheaper to augment WiFi coverage than it is to add more cell towers, and with higher potential throughput the carrier clearly feels its customers will appreciate the speed boost. “Our first AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone in New York City has received praise from our customers," said Angie Wiskocil, the senior vice president of AT&T Wi-Fi Services, "and we’re excited to introduce this Wi-Fi solution in Charlotte.”

    One caveat for iPhone users is that allowing your phone to auto-connect to AT&T's default attwifi SSID exposes them to a potential vulnerability that was identified by researcher Samy Kamkar earlier this year. There is a kludge in iOS that disables MAC address checking for the attwifi SSID only, so that iPhones can automagically connect to AT&T hotspots and hotzones wherever they may be. As a result, however, anyone can set up a malicious WiFi access point posing as an AT&T network, and a user would never know if their communications were being intercepted, or if they were being redirected to malware sites.

    The Charlotte hotzone extends along South Brevard Street from the area surrounding the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza to East Trade Street. The hotzone can also be accessed by AT&T customers who are waiting at Lynx light rail stations. In addition to Chicago, AT&T has indicated that San Francisco's financial district will soon get its own hotzone as part of the rollout of the pilot program.

    Source: Computerworld
    This article was originally published in forum thread: AT&T Working Around 3G Issues with WiFi "Hotzones" started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 30 Comments
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      ^
      I'd like to know where you got info that AT&T has been testing their '4G' network for over a year. They can't even get 3G working correctly and they've stated they were going to start testing 4G sometime this year. AT&T is WAY behind the game. WAY behind. They know it, we know it. They aren't anywhere near close to rolling out 4G, took them how long to get mms working on the iPhone when it worked everywhere else on every other phone that was capable. Now this. They 'somehow' had a glitch that neutered the largest data using phone in their arsenal and it was an accident? More like poor planning. They can tout all the big money spending numbers they want, they got caught with their pants down and are still screwing up after 4 YEARS. How can that be acceptable? I have gotten over my AT&T problems because I got a free microcell, but that in no way means you shouldn't hold an ineptly run companies feet to the fire until they change their ways or fold. That's how things get done, accountability.

      Quote Originally Posted by iLoveWindows&iPhone View Post
      AT&T is spending billions improving their network, these wifi spots will improve 3G performance for everyone, giving AT&T the time needed to make network upgrades.
      So four years isn't enough time to spend all those billions? How much time should they be given? Ten years? Fifteen years? They need to expand their coverage rather than beef it up continuously in the 20% of the US that already have it by area.
    1. robertr1's Avatar
      robertr1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by holdemdogg View Post
      What about giving 3G to the areas that only have edge instead of improving the areas that have 3G. This would equal more sales. Alot people in my area don't use smart phones because of this.
      I agree. While this is going to help a little bit it's annoying to have large areas that only have edge. I wonder how many people are going to use this though. I wouldn't like the idea of connecting to such a huge open wifi connection.

      I recently took a trip up to North Carolina and had edge almost all of the way from Alabama to North Carolina. Really the only place that had good 3g the whole trip was Atlanta.
    1. jwil736's Avatar
      jwil736 -
      AT&T will begin testing its 4G network using LTE, the same technology Verizon Wireless is using for its 4G network, starting in 2010, with a few commercial deployments ready in 2011 and more commercial deployments in 2012.
      AT&T to invest $2B in mobile network - CNN.com

      Now CNN is wrong too?
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by holdemdogg View Post
      What about giving 3G to the areas that only have edge instead of improving the areas that have 3G. This would equal more sales. Alot people in my area don't use smart phones because of this.
      How many people are in your area. Then compare how many people are in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York... get where I am going with this. Logically you want to service areas where there are more people. Let's say you live in a city of 100,000 people. Los Angeles, with their nearly 10 million, trumps your numbers 100 fold (again assuming you live in a city of 100k). THAT is why they are improving their 3G where they have it...
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      ^
      That's very true, but their commercials about covering 97% of Americans is extremely disingenuous. They won't actually come out and say we don't give but those that live in or around major population areas any attention. They also sued verizon for calling them out. They also threatened a customer with a c&d. They also try and charge to use your bandwidth at home to 'provide' you a cell signal. I'd support 100 million people over 100k just like they do, but I wouldn't act like my house isn't in disarray either.

      No, CNN isn't wrong jwil736. You were by saying AT&T has been testing 4G for over a year. They haven't and aren't anywhere near close to offering that to even a handful of customers. They are scrambling to get their users 3G coverage and they are about 2-3 years late to that party and they act like nothings amiss because they are spending so much money. And I don't believe for a single second that they are spending 2 billion on wireless expansion alone. I'm betting that their entire cost for wirelss and DSL services combined, at the least. AT&T is way behind and are just looking for anything to say to cover up their ineptness at running a company for more than six months in the future. If 4G is available to more than 500k AT&T customers by this time next year I'll eat your hat. Ain't gonna happen. I'd be willing to bet that their 3G coverage is less than 20% land area in the US, while they talk the big talk about covering 97% of Americans. I've traveled from east coast to west coast five times and the coverage is an absolute joke. That's on a major interstate system too. Here in SC you can't go down 95 to Savannah and expect to get a reliable signal. Unacceptable.

      I keep AT&T because they aren't that bad overall, but they need some serious work and a change of leadership. Without the iPhone they will sink big time. The only reason that they are as big as they are is because of the iPhone. They weren't prepared for it and they are paying the price now.
    1. RICO_'s Avatar
      RICO_ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ochocinco View Post
      they are, they have spent over a billion just on the network, and window 7 phones aint going to rape the network like the iphone did
      What exactly did they spend $1 billion on? Because it seems like more people than ever are having disappointing experiences with AT&T.
    1. law111's Avatar
      law111 -
      Quote Originally Posted by pauldanielash View Post


      With upwards of 32 million customers nationwide with compatible smartphones or LaptopConnect cards, AT&T is pursuing the hotzone project in an effort to reduce data throughput demands on the 3G network in the busiest cities in the US.
      Through demands put on the 3g network* i think?
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      Quote Originally Posted by RICO_ View Post
      What exactly did they spend $1 billion on? Because it seems like more people than ever are having disappointing experiences with AT&T.
      Paying Luke Wilson! Hahahaha
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      Will this work?
    1. SoCal Railroader's Avatar
      SoCal Railroader -
      Quote Originally Posted by sziklassy View Post
      How many people are in your area. Then compare how many people are in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York... get where I am going with this. Logically you want to service areas where there are more people. Let's say you live in a city of 100,000 people. Los Angeles, with their nearly 10 million, trumps your numbers 100 fold (again assuming you live in a city of 100k). THAT is why they are improving their 3G where they have it...
      You need to change your info, the REAL ISU is here, go Bengals!

      Idaho State University Idaho State University. You silly, misguided Iowans We ISU Alumni get perturbed at you guys using OUR initials Hahaha, isu.edu is ours you Corny people, muhahahah

      Back to what you were saying though, that may be true, but if Verizon can get 3G to those areas, why can't AT&T? It takes a sense of purpose, and AT&T so far hasn't shown much. Thankfully, I do have 3G near me, Ukiah, CA (9 miles south of me) is a city of 16,000 and has it, but we lucked out and AT&T Affiliate, Edge Wireless built the network out, they were officially taken over (AT&T had a 40% interest in them, they bought out the 60% that was privately held) by AT&T in April of 2008. Edge Wireless turned up 3G in many rural areas like ours across NorCal, Southern Oregon, Southeastern Idaho (Home to Pocatello, where the REAL ISU is ) and the Jackson, WY area. In NorCal, towns like Ukiah, Lakeport, Clearlake, Eureka, Arcata, Crescent City and Susanville have 3G, and GSM thanks to Edge Wireless, they cared about their bread and butter, rural and smaller towns.

      For a history of Edge Wireless- [ame]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edge_Wireless[/ame]