AT&T solving coverage issues with 850 overlay and new cell sites

AT&T solving coverage issues with 850 overlay and new cell sites

Summary: AT&T offers explanation in plain english on how it's fixing its network issues


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.

Topics: Hardware, Collaboration, Mobility, AT&T

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • At 97% that still leaves 9,000,000 unhappy Americans!

    That is more Americans than New York City, or L.A., Chicago, and Houston put together.
    That is like a kid being happy with a passing "D-" !
    • RE: AT&T solving coverage issues with 850 overlay and new cell sites


      I don't know where you got your math skills from but while there may be approximately 9 million people (out of 300+ Million) not covered 97% is still an A. How many people does verizon leave uncovered? Probably not much less. But you have to look where those American's not covered live. Now lets go to the other carriers that are not as big as AT&T and Verizon. They leave much more people uncovered. Now lo
  • People covered by 3G is vastly lower than 97%

    They advertise they cover 97% of Americans, but they don't tell you that a large portion of those people are only covered by Edge or even voice-only. They don't cover 97% at 3G data speeds. That number is not even close to 97%. That's the real issue now that most of us rely on our phones for data communications just as much as voice.
    • RE: AT&T solving coverage issues with 850 overlay and new cell sites

      That's not true. AT&T has repeatedly made public statements that their 3G network covers 80% of all Americans and is growing rapidly thanks to continued strong investment.
      • Have you SEEN their coverage map?

        @posativ Go check it out, and yes, their data network <i>might</i> reach 80% of Americans, 3G certainly does not. Right now, 3G is covered in all the right places - heavily in California, Florida, and northeast US. But look towards the middle of the US. iPhone/Smartphone owners out there must be withering away waiting for their phone to load the 40KB a website might be over AT&T's EDGE network.
  • RE: AT&T solving coverage issues with 850 overlay and new cell sites

    Not to burst your bubble but NYC has over 8 million people by itself...but I think the really frustrating point about this letter is the statement "...better coverage where it matters most..." So AT&T is telling me if I don't have good service it's because I don't matter? Gee thanks...
    • RE: AT&T solving coverage issues with 850 overlay and new cell sites


      Way to turn the statement into a "poor me" statement. Overall I think AT&T provides good service but it does need to be improved. I sincerely believe they are trying to do that. Part of the problem is that they grew to fast and when AT&T became one brand again and took over Cingular they grew more and then came the iPhone and it exploded their customers and exponentially increased their data traffic. They were not prepared and got caught with their pants down. I also believe that would have happened to any carrier and the difference is that the other carriers like Verizon had a bit more time to poke fun at AT&T and add coverage before DROID came in and gave the iPhone a run for its money. Before the iPhone most smart phones just used SMS, email and some MMS. Streaming videos and massive web browsing was not nearly as high as it is now. I have been with AT&T since it was Ameritech/Cell One and they have always given me good phone coverage and good customer service. I cannot say that I have never run into areas where my phone does not work so well because I have, but I have been with my family with their verizon phones and they are far from perfect themselves.
  • RE: AT&T solving coverage issues with 850 overlay and new cell sites

    I guess I'm not in the 97% so back to Verizon - Good bye iP!
  • RE: AT&amp;T solving coverage issues with 850 overlay and new cell sites

    Since AT&T took over Cingular, our service has went out the window. Each renewal of my contract I am told that we are getting 3G service in our area of, Mason County, KY. The surrounding areas have it, so why don't we? The country population is just as important, when AT&T is sending out monthly bill, so why can't we have the service in which we are paying for?