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Wednesday, May 21, 2008, 10:20 am PT (01:20 pm ET)

AT&T says 3G network to be completed by June

AT&T said Wednesday it plans to have completed deployment of its vast 3G wireless infrastructure by next month, around the same time Apple is expected to begin selling a an updated iPhone that will take advantage of the faster wireless technology.

"By the end of June, connecting to AT&T's 3G mobile broadband service will be as speedy as logging onto the high speed Internet service that many consumers enjoy at home," the carrier said in a statement.

AT&T note that its final step in the process is to deploy High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA) technology in six remaining markets covered by its 3G network, which will boost uploads speeds to the 500 - 800 Kbps range.

The new upload speeds will complement AT&T's existing 3G download capabilities, which offer speeds up to 1.4 Mbps thanks to previous deployments of its HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) technology.

Once completed, AT&T will be the only U.S. carrier to have fully deployed HSPA technology in its 3G network, with availability in more than 275 markets. The carrier said it will then work on scaling the technology to nearly 350 markets by year's end, at which time it will have spent a combined $20 billion over the past four years in improvements and upgrades.

"Equally as important as the network is the device through which a customer experiences it," the carrier said. "AT&T's handset portfolio in company-owned stores is more than 75 percent 3G-capable — and will be even more enticing with the addition of more 3G-enabled smartphones in the summer and fall of 2008."

Earlier this month, AppleInsider reported on AT&T's long-term roadmap for its 3G network, which includes boosting speeds to the 7.2 Mbps range sometime later this year or early next, and eventually hit speeds of 20 Mbps sometime in 2009.

Beyond that, the the carrier says it has "a clear and logical path" to 700MHz 4G access via the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard in the 2010 timeframe that could increase speeds to nearly 100 Mbps.