AT&T 3G in Tennessee

The good folks at AT&T have put out a press-release regarding AT&T 3G coverage plans for Tennessee in 2010.

According to the press-release, AT&T is planing on adding 20 new cell sites in 2010. New cell sites are a big deal because they require the carrier to acquire a plot of land, build a tower, and run all the infrastructure to the site. What’s even more interesting is that this press-release is this quote:

“upgrade of approximately 525 additional cell sites to 3G throughout the state.”

Currently 3G service in Tennessee is mainly in the Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Memphis markets (yes there is also Gatlinburg and the Tri-Cites), so the thought of ANY site upgrades to 3G would mean expanded coverage. While not in the  press-release, it seems reasonable to assume that part of the 3G expansion would be to fill in the gaps of coverage along the i40 corridor linking Knoxville to Memphis. Of course, for those of us in Crossville and Cookeville, this would be great because we are in the coverage gap between Knoxville and Nashville.

In trying to understand the numbers, I thought I would do some research into just how much this proposed upgrade would impact the overall system. I wanted to know what percentage  525 towers were of the overall AT&T tower presence in Tennessee. This is where I hit a snag. I cannot find ANY data concerning the total number of towers in Tennessee.

According the the AT&T site Tennessee only has 107 current cell sites. So it seems rather impossible to “upgrade” 525 of 107 sites.

Thinking the numbers might be a typo, or that 525 was a national number and not just a Tennessee number, I found a similar press release for Georgia. There AT&T claims to be upgrading 250 sites to 3G. Going back to they list George as having 174 cell sites. Again, 250 out of 174 is not possible.

So it’s clear that is ether grossly outdated, or there is some terminology confusion between what the marketing people at AT&T call a cell site/tower and what the technical people call a cell site/tower. Upon reflection may only be listing towers owned by AT&T while the press-release may cover both owned towers, and cell sites on buildings and cell sites co-located on other company towers.

If any one has any reliable data on the total number of AT&T cell sites in Tennessee, I would be interested in knowing that.

In any case, let’s hope AT&T plans to add some 3G coverage in Tennessee a catch up with Verizon.

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