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AT&T to expand public Wi-Fi access in some major cities

by Kelly MacNeil on December 28, 2010

AT&T announced today that it is planning to expand Wi-Fi access in a couple of major cities to initially include New York, NY and San Francisco, CA.  The wireless carrier is making this expansion in an effort to help relieve congestion on its overcrowded cellular network caused primarily by it’s iPhone users.  Because of its over crowded cellular network, many customers, especially in large cities, have complained about dropped calls and slow internet connection speeds on the carrier’s 3G network.  The expansion in Wi-Fi availability should help both problems.

Slow internet connection speeds and dropped calls occur when too many users are trying to access the network at the same time.  The problem has steadily increased since the introduction of the iPhone into AT&T’s network since iPhone users not only make phone calls, but access the internet extensively.  If you want to check your internet connection speed from your cellular phone or mobile cellular device, there are a couple of sites to try.  The two best internet speed test tools for testing internet connection speeds for mobile devices are InternetFrog.com and SpeedTest.net.  Both offer free, easy to use mobile speed tests.

By expanding its free Wi-Fi network, AT&T hopes more of its customers will use Wi-Fi when using their cell phones instead of using the carrier’s 3G network.  This should take some of the load off the network allowing for fewer dropped calls and better internet speeds.  In addition, Wi-Fi provides for much faster internet speeds than a 3G network which leads to greater customer satisfaction as well.

AT&T has been creating Wi-Fi zones in several large cities over the past year to help with the issues described above.  The difference between these Wi-Fi zones and regular, traditional Wi-Fi zones is that the AT&T zones cover a larger area than was traditionally possible.  AT&T plans to continue to add new zones across the country as long as they remain successful in reducing stress on the carrier’s network which reduces dropped calls and increases internet speeds.

AT&T is expanding its Wi-Fi network in and around Times Square in New York City as well as the Embarcadero waterfront district of San Francisco.  AT&T launched its Wi-Fi zone in New York City back in May of this year and is expanding it due to its popularity.  The zone they are launching in San Francisco will be the city’s first public, outdoor wi-fi area in the Embarcadero district.

A list of free AT&T Wi-Fi zones can be found on their website.  But the free service can only be accessed by customers of AT&T’s wireless cellular network or Broadband Internet service.

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