AT&T Service May Actually Be Getting Better

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Those who grumble about AT&T's lousy 3G coverage may be finding less reason to complain before long.

The wireless carrier began rolling out the 850 MHz spectrum 3G band last week, starting in Atlanta and expanding throughout the year to the other 350 areas where AT&T offers 3G coverage, Mobledia reports. Benefits have already been felt in San Francisco, where TechCrunch's MG Siegler reported getting solid service in an area that was previously spotty.

AT&T told Siegler that improvements are under way and should be complete in the coming weeks. When that happens, the carrier promised a full walkthrough of the changes, which should be interesting to see.

Especially among iPhone users, gripes with AT&T are plentiful, and service issues are foremost among them. An upgrade to the service ahead of last summer's iPhone 3G release did little to pacify complaints.

A recent survey of iPhone users by ChangeWave Research found that half the respondents chose AT&T as their biggest problem with owning the smartphone. Of those people, 23 percent said calling and data coverage was their biggest beef (32 percent said they didn't like being locked in with AT&T, which could point to a number of issues).

Rolling out the 850 MHz spectrum will certainly improve coverage, but there's more work to be done. The company plans to upgrade its HSPA 3G network to effectively double capacity, from 3.6 Mbps to 7.2 Mbps. When AT&T begins rolling out that upgrade later this year, it'll allow iPhone 3GS owners to finally take advantage of the phone's faster hardware. That'll go a long way toward making AT&T seem like it's on the ball.

Now, all we need is support for tethering and MMS, and maybe 3G coverage for the SlingPlayer app, and we're all set. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

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