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AT&T: 700k square miles of 3G added in 2011, 80 percent of mobile broadband now on 'enhanced backhaul'

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In its earnings release, AT&T is touting a number of network improvements it made in 2011, including some 700,000 square miles of new 3G coverage.

nokia lumia 900 att_640
nokia lumia 900 att_640

In its mixed earnings report this morning, AT&T offered a handful of updates on the improving state of its oft-maligned wireless network. You may be familiar with the carrier's qualifier that 4G speeds are delivered in part by "enhanced backhaul" — higher-speed connections between cell sites and the internet — and it's saying today that those connections now reach 80 percent of the "mobile broadband" traffic (3G and 4G, presumably) that it delivers.


The second graph tells another part of the story: AT&T is talking up its improved 3G call drop rates, which it says were up some 25 percent in the quarter and have been over 99 percent since mid-September. Of course, this number is a national aggregate — those of us in densely-packed urban areas know that the rate can be much worse in some situations.

Finally, AT&T reminds us that even as its LTE buildout kicks into high gear, it's not done adding 3G (unlike Sprint and Verizon, the country's GSM operators still haven't reached a 100 percent 3G overlay with their legacy 2G foorprints). In 2011, the company says that it added some 700,000 square miles of 3G coverage nationally, delivered by over 30,000 carriers and 80,000 antennas — a boon for rural folks who want voice and data at the same time.