AT&T has unveiled its California wireless network investment plans for 2010, which include the addition of more than 200 new cell sites and the upgrade of nearly 500 additional cell sites to 3G throughout the state.

The wireless network enhancement strategy is part of AT&T’s 2010 wireline and wireless capital investment, which is expected to be in the $18 billion to $19 billion range, an increase of between 5-10 percent over 2009.

This planned level of investment is based on the expectation that legislative and regulatory decisions will promote investment and further competition in the telecom sector.

Wireless data traffic on the AT&T network has grown more than 5,000 percent over the past three years, largely attributed to today’s advanced smartphones that are generating dramatically increasing volumes of network traffic.

AT&T recently completed a software upgrade at 3G cell sites nationwide. The deployment of High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 technology is the first of multiple initiatives in AT&T’s network enhancement strategy.

Faster 3G speeds are scheduled to become available this year and in 2011 as AT&T combines the new technology with its initiative to increase the number of high-speed backhaul connections to cell sites, primarily with fiber-optic connections, adding capacity from cell sites to the AT&T backbone network.

The backhaul upgrades are also a key step in the evolution toward next-generation LTE mobile broadband technology.  AT&T is designing its new backhaul deployments to accommodate both faster 3G and future LTE deployments.

AT&T currently plans to begin trials of LTE technology this year, and to begin LTE deployment in 2011.

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