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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. reanimationxp's Avatar
      reanimationxp -
      Somehow i don't think this will help. Sure wifi is easy to implement and roll out, but Apple/ATT will have to fix that security hole, or anyone with a laptop familiar with this 'sploit would be able to sit there and grab TONS of info from passersby.

      Would love to see how much this is costing them vs. improving the network bandwidth. Starting to wonder if WiMAX isn't such a bad idea after all too.
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      Why Charlotte?
    1. ChrisRC1985's Avatar
      ChrisRC1985 -
      edited - removed
    1. LastSonOfKrypton's Avatar
      LastSonOfKrypton -
      Wow! AT&T is claiming their network is crippled and overloaded in certain area and then I read articles like this from Engadget where they're taking on even more smartphones.

      Awesome job AT&T! Why not consider investing some of those profits into network upgrades to handle the traffic, eh? No that'd just be smart
    1. wolverinemarky's Avatar
      wolverinemarky -
      yea im not big on connecting to wifi hotspots that i dont know who they are for sure, AT&T definitely should fix this
    1. santacruzlocal's Avatar
      santacruzlocal -
      Band aid
    1. A_DuB187's Avatar
      A_DuB187 -
      Exactly what I was thinking...this is basically just a band aid for them that's all.
    1. iLoveWindows&iPhone's Avatar
      iLoveWindows&iPhone -
      I think it's a great idea, very smart. 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. Don't know why every is so negative about this. Other than the security issue, I think this is a great idea... Good for AT&T, good for customers.
    1. eg6motion's Avatar
      eg6motion -
      Quote Originally Posted by LastSonOfKrypton View Post
      Awesome job AT&T! Why not consider investing some of those profits into network upgrades to handle the traffic, eh? No that'd just be smart
      actually they are, and have been.
    1. zozodouce's Avatar
      zozodouce -
      F..at&t.
    1. headcheese's Avatar
      headcheese -
      Quote Originally Posted by santacruzlocal View Post
      band aid
      qft
    1. Ochocinco's Avatar
      Ochocinco -
      Quote Originally Posted by LastSonOfKrypton View Post
      Wow! AT&T is claiming their network is crippled and overloaded in certain area and then I read articles like this from Engadget where they're taking on even more smartphones.

      Awesome job AT&T! Why not consider investing some of those profits into network upgrades to handle the traffic, eh? No that'd just be smart
      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
    1. holdemdogg's Avatar
      holdemdogg -
      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.
    1. LastSonOfKrypton's Avatar
      LastSonOfKrypton -
      Quote Originally Posted by eg6motion View Post
      actually they are, and have been.
      Oh I know they are. It's just I perceive something like this as more of a quick fix. I'm sure they are addressing the long term problem but you'd think they'd want some publicity for their network upgrades at the same time.
    1. CMOSlabs's Avatar
      CMOSlabs -
      Every little bit helps, more lanes on the info highway. I'm always seeking wifi to save on my data plan. They are everywhere.
    1. iLoveWindows&iPhone's Avatar
      iLoveWindows&iPhone -
      Quote Originally Posted by LastSonOfKrypton View Post
      Oh I know they are. It's just I perceive something like this as more of a quick fix. I'm sure they are addressing the long term problem but you'd think they'd want some publicity for their network upgrades at the same time.
      It's is a quick fix, but it's a temporary quick fix to give them the time they need to improve their network. Adding 1 billion data hogging iPhones to
      ANY network is going to require some "emergency" assistance to the network.
    1. kenpura's Avatar
      kenpura -
      "automagically"
    1. sal_osx's Avatar
      sal_osx -
      Funny I just found myself near Downtown L.A. with no reception/3G/Edge. I wasn't even around tall buildings. Bummer.
    1. delusion950's Avatar
      delusion950 -
      att su***
    1. jwil736's Avatar
      jwil736 -
      Seriously, you whiners need to grow up. First you complain that AT&T is so horrible with their speeds, their network is so over crowded and is the worst carrier YET your still on it... (Of course speaking to most U.S. Iphone owners). Finally they are doing something to help, even if it is just a little, and you want to complain about that too!

      If you would think about it they are not trying to "band-aid" anything, they have had 4G network in test stages for over a year now and should roll out sometime late 2011, early 2012. Why would they invest any more money into a network speed, that in 2014, will basically be obsolete? Doesn't make too much sense to me as a business person... I would save all the profits I can, use the bulk of it for making a superior 4G network. Now, wouldn't that make more sense?