As Neowin reported earlier this month, AT&T plans to invest up to $19 billion in network upgrades. The first major step appears to be opening three test labs, according to an AT&T press release. Two of the development centers will be located in the United States and the third will be an international facility. Verizon opened a similar center last year.
According to AT&T, mobile broadband traffic has grown over 5,000 percent in three years. Both AT&T and Verizon are working on new networks based on Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. Commercial deployment of LTE is scheduled for 2011 and promises to deliver higher speeds than 3G networks. AT&T also plans to upgrade the existing 3G network during 2010 and 2011 and deploy HSPA 7.2 technology. Further expenditures include adding new radio controllers, carriers, and 2,000 cell sites.
The press release details the test centers will "enable AT&T scientists and engineers to work directly with device makers, application developers and network equipment providers to expedite development of an ecosystem of mobile and wired broadband services and capabilities for consumers and business users."
The facilities' focus will be on software development, prototyping, and equipment testing for the mobile sector. The centers will also be used for development of AT&T's wired broadband service and U-verse IPTV.
Specific locations and details on staffing will be announced later this year.