AT&T upgrading Columbus wireless network, but quiet on 4G LTE

Company spending $750,000 on 30 cell sites across Columbus

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 8, 2013 

AT&T is pumping more money into the Columbus market’s wireless network. But on Friday the company remained mum on how those improvements will impact customers.

More importantly, it would not say if the work on 30 cellular sites around the city will bring the industry standard 4G LTE service already available in virtually every other major Georgia city and many smaller towns.

“We don’t disclose specifics for competitive reasons. But what I can tell you is we continue to invest in technology, strengthen our network and seek opportunities to offer the best wireless experience possible in the region,” AT&T media relations manager Ann Elsas said via email.

“We remain committed to our plan for expanding and growing our wireless network in the greater Columbus area,” she added.

As in past queries, Elsas cited AT&T’s pledge to cover 300 million Americans with the much faster and data friendly 4G LTE technology by the end of 2014. The company has spent nearly $4.5 billion on both wireless and wired line networks since 2010.

City of Columbus building permits show that work is continuing locally, with the 30 sites receiving work pegged at $25,000 each, for a total of $750,000. They are scattered across the city.

Columbus has yet to get the 4G LTE technology that offers improved coverage and speeds, particularly with the increasing use of data-driven smartphones, tablets and personal computers.

The Georgia cities of Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Brunswick, Calhoun, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon and Savannah all have 4G LTE. In early October, the company added the small communities of Cordele and Dublin. In Alabama, the service is now in Auburn-Opelika, Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery.

LTE is an acronym for “long-term evolution,” an industry standard for technology used to not only connect basic voice calls, but to provide the high-speed data transmission used for today’s array of technology gadgets.

AT&T now uses what is known as 4G lite locally, HSPA+ technology the company says is four times faster than 3G. The company also has said in the past that it is trying to solve the “lack of available spectrum” in Columbus — bandwidth that would give it room to offer much speedier service.

AT&T competitor Verizon Wireless launched 4G LTE in the Columbus market in July 2012, while T-Mobile has launched its upgraded system locally as well. Sprint earlier this year announced plans to roll out 4G LTE in Columbus. But a check of its current coverage map shows a “best” signal in north Phenix City, a “fair” signal in the Smiths Station area, and Columbus still in 3G mode.

In late September, AT&T announced its purchase of Alltel networks in six states from Atlantic Tele-Network Inc. That included service in several Georgia area counties, which are to be upgraded to 4G. The local counties include Harris, Meriwether, Quitman, Schley, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taylor and Webster.

“We welcome Alltel customers to the AT&T family, and we think they will love everything they can do on our superfast 4G network,” said AT&T Georgia President Sylvia Russell in a statement.

AT&T CELL SITES

Here are the AT&T wireless network sites that are receiving work in Columbus, according to city building permits. In no particular order, they include:

• 10129 Veterans Parkway

• 8200 Stevens Lane

• 5351 Sidney Simons Blvd.

• 3155 Williams Road

• 7351 River Road

• 7128 Jamesson Court

• 6220 Milgen Road

• 8900 Warm Springs Road

• 8839 Macon Road

• 5555 Whittlesey Blvd.

• 7300 Whittlesey Blvd.

• 7880 Schomburg Road

• 7641 Midland Road

• 2300 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

• 3908 Hamilton Road

• 113 18th St.

• 10 Mathews St.

• 100 Fourth St.

• 425 Old Buena Vista Road

• 4343 Allied Drive

• 5436 Forrest Road

• 2944 Warm Springs Road

• 4833 Old Cusseta Road

• 3700 Schatulga Road

• 4231 Macon Road

• 4410 Buena Vista Road

• 4191 Milgen Road

• 5025 Steam Mill Road

• 6030 Macon Road

• 834 Omega Drive

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