If you live in NYC and have been noticing better AT&T coverage, there's a reason for that. According to AT&T, the company has been working hard at adding a lot of new cell sites, but in particular, especially in NYC, the company has been rolling out its 850 overlay.
The 850 overlay is in reference to the 850 MHz band, and while it is providing more in-building coverage, more importantly it's handling
"some of the load … and that works with just about all cell phones today that have the ability to use 850 and 1900."
What's really cool about this latest news, though, is the way AT&T dropped it on the world. The company took the time to make a "Seth the AT&T Blogger Guy" video, where Seth not only talks about the improvements in plain english, but also includes a walk-thru of the tech with AT&T engineer, Carl Busseno (pictured below).
You can watch the approximately 3 minute video below for more information.
Long story short, AT&T is using the 850 MHz band where it can, to lessen the load on its 1900 band and to improve coverage overall.
I had previously turned my iPhone's 3G capabilities off and gone to EDGE when I was in NYC, due to poor coverage. After watching this video I recalled that last week when I was in NYC I didn't experience any dropped calls or any other mobile phone issues. So, the coverage expansion appears to be working.
By the way, AT&T also sent out an e-mail that wasn't as well received, entitled "A Special Message from AT&T". In the letter the company thanks us for choosing AT&T and explains that it has plans to invest between $18 and $19 billion in its wireless and wireline networks in 2010 alone, and that it is adding thousands of new cell sites.
It's not clear which part of the letter really drove people over the edge, but my guess would be that it's worded in such a way to make you think that coverage is acceptable for 97 percent of all Americans. Unfortunately, there's still a substantial part of the country where that's not the case, and those users have been sounding off on AT&T's Facebook page since.
I have pasted a picture of the e-mail below so you can draw your own conclusions.