Some AT&T users to see much-faster speeds with network upgrades due this year

Those who use AT&T’s cellular service in some parts of the Twin Cities are about to see a big wireless-data boost.

The big-four wireless carrier today announced soon-to-come upgrades that look to hike data-download speeds significantly — from up to 100 gigabits per second, under ideal conditions, to at least twice that.

In some cases, users could see 500-gigabit-per-second downloads, though that would be far from the norm.

The upgrade is due to be deployed by the end of the year, but will not yet blanket the entire metro area.

The Twin Cities is the third metropolitan area to get this upgraded service, after Austin, Tex., and Indianapolis, with about 20 U.S. metropolitan areas due to be operational by year’s end.

Not all available smartphones are compatible with the new speeds. Perhaps most prominently, no Apple iPhone currently works with the wireless update.

Smartphones that do handle the new speeds include the LG V30, the Moto Z Force Edition, and a handful of Samsung handsets — the Galaxy Note 8, the Galaxy S8, the Galaxy S8+ and the Galaxy S8 Active.

The just-announced upgrades are a step on the path to so-called “5G” — a term loosely meant to describe wireless downloads of 1 gigabit per second or greater. The big-four carriers — including Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — are in a race to get there, with the necessary technologies in development and requiring approval as agreed-upon standards.

AT&T is putting is metro-area upgrades into position now partly because of major upcoming sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, which will boost demand for wireless service.

In a related move, AT&T said it has more than doubled its network capacity inside downtown Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Super Bowl is scheduled to be played on Feb. 4.

With more than 800 antennas, the network inside the stadium is equivalent to that needed to service the entire city of Minneapolis, the carrier claims.

AT&T said it invested nearly $350 million in its Minnesota wireless and wired networks between 2014 and 2016. In 2016, it made 1,271 wireless-network updates in 272 communities across Minnesota. They include new cell sites, and added capacity to existing cell sites.


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